Four Bronze Animal Heads from Yuanmingyuan
Thematic Gallery (5),
Hong Kong Heritage Museum
10 January 2004 - 25 January 2004
This unique exhibition showcases four bronze animal heads that once formed a striking feature of the water clock fountain at Haiyantang (the Hall of the Calm Sea) in Yuanmingyuan (the Summer Palace) in Beijing. The fountain was originally decorated with a set of 12 bronze heads - representing the animals that symbolise the twelve Earthly Branches in the Chinese calendar - through which water would spew, but the heads went missing when the Summer Palace was burned during the Anglo-French War in 1860. Four of the heads - those of the monkey, the tiger, the ox and the pig - have been found in quick succession since 2000 and have been collected by the Poly Art Museum of Beijing. To celebrate the coming Year of the Monkey, these four bronze heads will be displayed for public viewing at the Heritage Museum. Of particular note, the pig's head was acquired recently, and this will be the first time it has been exhibited in Hong Kong.
Vividly depicted, the four animal heads reveal an exquisite craftsmanship and demonstrate the exceptionally high standard of the Chinese imperial casting technique. Together with the engraving from Haiyantang, we can gain a better understanding of the distinguished architectural features of the unique water clock fountain that once graced the Summer Palace.
Other Past Exhibitions