Yinchuan World Rock Art Museum - Third Annual Rock Art Festival & Seminar

2010 Third Annual Rock Art Festival & Seminar, China

Participants: Damon de Laszlo, Dr. Jill Cook, Peter Robinson, Li Hui.

The purpose of this Field Trip was two-fold; to view the rock carvings of the remote Helan Mountains of Inner Mongolia, and to establish a collaboration and partnership between the Bradshaw Foundation and the Yinchuan World Rock Art Museum located at the foot of the mountains.

The Bradshaw Foundation now documents rock art and the major rock art sites throughout the world, but for some time I have been conscious of the distinct lack of representation and information on the rock art of China. On closer inspection, we assessed there to be major rock art sites in at least ten provinces, where significant research was being carried out by predominantly Chinese teams. Helankou, within the Helan Mountains, with its carved petroglyphs and unique motifs, is considered one of the most important sites.

The Sun God
iconic petroglyph of Helankou
The timing of the Field Trip was chosen to coincide with the 2010 Third Annual Rock Art Festival & Seminar, held at the Yinchuan Museum and the Northern Nationalities University in Yinchuan. The Festival was officially opened, on a sunny morning on the steps of the Museum with the jagged Helan Mountains behind, by Mr. Mi, President of the Northern Nationalities University. The opening speeches were followed by the exchange of gifts between the Foundation & the Museum. As Chairman of the Foundation I presented an edition of the aluminium cast of the Dabous Giraffe carving taken some years earlier in the Sahara. Mr. Li, the Curator of the Yinchuan Museum of World Rock Art, in turn presented the petroglyph rubbing of the 'Sun God', the iconic petroglyph of Helankou. The Foundationís representative Li Hui acted as interpreter.

Professor Chen Zhaofu, the tireless campaigner bringing the rock art of China to the attention of the rest of the world, and an executive member of the International Rock Art Committee, then spoke of his hopes for the future of rock art research in China, and the role that the Museum would play in that. The Professor had initiated the contact with the Bradshaw Foundation and the subsequent visit to the Museum, and his lifetimeís work in discovering and documenting the rock art has now been honoured by the Museum.

There then followed an intriguing drumming and dancing ceremony to celebrate the ancient artistic legacy and early culture of the Helan Mountains.
Rock Art Festival China Yinchuan Museum
Dancing Ceremony
Rock Art Festival China Yinchuan Museum
Drumming Ceremony
2010 Third Annual Rock Art Seminar
2010 Third Annual Rock Art Seminar
Rock Art Festival China Yinchuan Museum
Chinese Television Interview
In the discussions that followed, members of the Bradshaw Foundation were able to propose to the Yinchuan Museum that the Bradshaw Foundation's website should act as the internet portal for the research and documentation of Chinese rock art [all to be channelled through the Museum] - in English & Chinese, in the hope of ending the poor representation.

The Bradshaw Foundation also proposed that it would provide advice and contacts for curatorial matters, under the guidance of Dr. Jill Cook of the British Museum, as well as advice on rock art research and documentation techniques. Following her recent curatorial work at the new museum at Cresswell Craggs in England, Jill is especially qualified in such matters.

In order to consolidate the Bradshaw Foundation's proposals, the Museum requested the incorporation of Professor Stephen Oppenheimer's Journey of Mankind Genetic Map into the Museum's permanent exhibition, in order to provide a context for the rock art sites in China. The Map, eventually to be translated, could be run as a loop as well as an interactive map.
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