China – Land of the Dragon

Civilization in China began more than 3000 years ago. The Chinese called their civilization ‘the Middle Kingdom’, believing it to be the centre of the world. For much of its long history, China led the world in literature, the arts and sciences, technology and philosophy.

Paper was invented in China in the 1st century AD. The oldest known printed book is dated to 868 AD. Rockets and gunpowder were first used for military purposes by the Mongol dynasty, while other Chinese inventions include cast iron, paddle-wheel propulsion, the wheelbarrow and the first inoculation against smallpox. Chinese artisans made beautiful objects in silk, porcelain and jade.

The Museum’s collections are largely ceramics and hard stone, with some scroll paintings and metalwork.