Enlightening Trivialities - Ancient Chinese Pastimes Exhibition
Thematic Gallery (5),
Hong Kong Heritage Museum
22 March 2006 - 26 June 2006
Technological advancement has brought us all sorts of electronic pastimes products. In ancient China, where there was no television, electronic game or karaoke, how did people spend their leisure time?

Devoting this year to the theme of "Pastimes", the Hong Kong Heritage Museum will be looking at the historical development and social significance of pastimes from various angles, such as art and history. The first in a series of events planned or the year, the exhibition "Enlightening Trivialities - Ancient Chinese Pastimes" will present a great variety of ancient Chinese leisure activities. Some of these are well known, having been passed down through the generations, but others are more obscure, our knowledge of them no more than broad outlines that have emerged from historical artifacts. Jointly presented by the Leisure & Cultural Services Department and the National Museum of China, the exhibition showcases 115 sets of artifacts - ancient musical instruments, figurines of music players and dancers, pictures on bricks, tools for chess games and picture scrolls from the National Museum of China - that trace the development of ancient music, dance, acrobatics, operatic arts, hunting and sports activities of our ancestors. Several games will also be recreated in the gallery so that visitors can share in the fun of our ancestors' pastimes.

Exhibit Highlights

 The Autumn Banquet The Autumn Banquet
Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)
Height 35 cm Width 140 cm

Historically, golf has been considered as a Western sport, so why does it appear in this ancient Chinese painting?

This painting of meticulous brushwork on paper presents the scene at a farewell banquet for an official, Cui Xian, before he leaves to take up new duties. The participants are engaged in amusements such as chess games, chuiwan and drinking. Chuiwan is the ancient Chinese pastime equivalent to the modern-day golf, in which the player tries to hit a ball into a hole, much like on today's golf courses. Chuiwan was very popular during the Song and Yuan dynasties and although it was not as widely played during the Ming dynasty as before, it remained popular with the upper classes.

Bone flute with seven holes
Neolithic Age
Length 20.4cm
Excavated in Jiahu, Wuyang County,
Henan Province in 1981

Bone flute with seven holes

Pictorial brick with high wire chariots Pictorial brick with high wire chariots
Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 220)
Length 105.5 cm Width 35.6 cm Thickness 6.7 cm
Excavated in Xinye County, Henan Province

Figure of Storyteller
Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220)
Height 56cm
Excavated in Tianhuishan, Chengdu, Sichuan Province in 1957

Figure of Storyteller

Green glazed pottery stage Green glazed pottery stage
Eastern Han dynasty (25 - 220)
Height 99cm
Excavated in Dawangdian, Woyang, Anhui Province

Painted pictorial brick with scene of dice game
Northern and Southern dynasty (386 - 589)
Length 15.5 cm Width 43.5 cm
Excavated in Jiayuguan, Gansu Province

Painted pictorial brick with scene of dice game

Pictorial stone of touhu (rubbing) Pictorial stone of touhu (rubbing)
Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 220)
Height 53 cm Width 140 cm
Excavated from Nanyang, Henan Province
By courtesy of Nanyang Pictorial Stone Museum

Bronze touhu pot
Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)
Height 50 cm Mouth diameter 19.5 cm

Bronze touhu pot

Painted pottery figures of polo players (replica) Painted pottery figures of polo players (replica)
Tang dynasty (618 - 907)
Height 32 cm
Excavated from Xi'an, Shaanxi Province

Bronze mirror with football game motif
Song dynasty (960 - 1279)
Diameter 10.6 cm Thickness 0.6 cm

Bronze mirror with football game motif

Other Past Exhibitions