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The fifty years between 1400 and 1450 saw China’s Ming dynasty establish Beijing as the capital and build the world-famous Forbidden City. The emperors who ruled this vast swathe of territory used princes to control the regions, and many of the exhibition’s treasures originated from those imperial and princely courts.
China was a global superpower thoroughly connected with the outside world. Official missions led by Zheng He journeyed as far as East Africa, India and Arabia. The objects brought back from these voyages influenced Chinese artists, and they created some of the most beautiful objects and paintings ever made.
New excavations over the past ten years have unearthed a wealth of new treasures, never before seen in the UK. Spectacular objects in the exhibition include exquisite porcelain, gold, jewellery, furniture, paintings, sculptures and textiles. These are drawn from museums across China and the rest of the world, as well as the British Museum’s own collection.