The cultures of Egypt and China are distinguished by a long history spanning several millennia. In the exhibition China and Egypt. Cradles of the World, treasures of Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Chinese art can be seen side-by-side. For the first time the show features scores of exhibits from China that have never gone to Europe before. The exhibits on display cover a timespan from 4500 BC to the Greek and Roman period (332 BC to 313 AD). The direct comparison of the ancient high cultures shows visitors how both societies had a decisive and enduring impact on the development of human history. Despite their enormous distance, both cultures developed similar structures, which are still recognizable today.
Each of the 250 exhibits has its own history, while also representing an entire culture. Both ordinary items of everyday life and important art treasures can serve to bring us closer to these past cultures, communicating information about places, peoples, and ways of life. The exhibition demonstrates this through five thematic chapters that focus on: writing, forms of government, religious beliefs, funerary cult, and daily life. In some areas, Chinese and Egyptian art and culture reveal surprising correlations, in others interesting tensions emerge. The exhibition’s spectacular highpoint is the jade burial suit of a deceased Chinese nobleman presented alongside a richly painted mummy case from Ancient Egypt.
(Photo: Exhibition graphic, composed of: Wine vessel shaped as an owl/Standing figure of the jackal-headed god Anubis/Dui food vessel/Statuette of a servant/Heart scarab, Photo: Sandra Steiß, © Shanghai Museum, China / Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung)