Special Sports Exhibit at the Provincial Museum

By Ding Xin / hicn.cn / Updated: 16:27,18-February-2022

In honor of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the Hainan Provincial Museum has put together a sports-themed exhibit out of items in their collection. The Games at the Museum opened on February 15.

Eastern Han Red Pottery Figure Doing an Acrobatic Handstand: An ancient grave good shows the art of acrobatics

This type of pottery figurine from the Eastern Han Dynasty  would have been used as a grave good buried with the dead as an offeringMade of a fired red clay similar to that used for brick making, the lifelike figurine wearing a felt hat is doing a bent handstand none too dissimilar from what modern gymnasts do today. The masterful techniques of the craftsman who made it serve to evoke the skills of an ancient acrobat nearly 2,000 years after it was first made.

Eastern Han Red Pottery Figure Doing an Acrobatic Handstand 


Acrobatics is one of China's oldest art forms of performance art. During the Western and Eastern Han dynasties, acrobatic skills were further developed. From written records as well as frescoes, carved brickwork, stone statuary, and pottery grave goods, evidence of the acrobatic forms of the era (including handstands, contortionist forms, backward tumbling, jar juggling, and tightrope walking) have survived to the modern day.

Dragonboat Racing: Boat races such as this evoke the spirit of the Olympics

Attributed to Lai Shangyuan, a folk painter during the reign of the Qing Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796), this work shows the customs of the Duanwu and Zhongyuan festivals in Jiangxi Province's Taihe County and supplies scholars with important information on both Chinese religious history and the art of folk painting.


Dragonboat Racing


One of the most important activities to take place during the Duanwu Festival (or Dragonboat Festival) is the dragonboat race. Held to commemorate Qu Yuan—a Chinese poet and politician in the State of Chu during the Warring States period —the races were initial a ritual activity worshiping the gods but they later became a way of both praying for a good harvest and warding off evil spirits. An important part of the traditional culture of the Chinese people, dragonboat races have been widely carried out across Asia in different scales and forms.

During the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, Chinese Dragonboat Racing was a non-competitive performance event. This not only boosts the power of traditional Chinese sports but also takes a solid step towards dragonboat racing becoming an official Olympic sport.

Carving of Children Playing: Originally part of a cabinet

Made during the Republic of China (1912-1949), this cabinet component depicts three children playing sports and dancing.


Carving of Children Playing


Children's lives often include rich and colorful sports activities. The sports motifs in this and other similar carvings include everything from riding bamboo horses to flying kites and practicing martial arts. They not only reflect the spirit of sports but also imply the existence of a happy childhood in a prosperous and peaceful society.

Tennis Racket Development Display Model

Tennis was a very popular sport among the Chinese leisure class of the early 20th century. Likely to have been a display piece used by a merchant selling sporting equipment, this model showed how the tennis racket—an essential piece of equipment for every player—had developed over the years. 


Tennis Racket Development Display Model 


The advancement of science and technology in sport has caused equipment such as tennis rackets to evolve from wood to metal, from metal to fiberglass, and from fiberglass to carbon fiber. From material to shape, and appearance to function, the shape, style, and material of tennis rackets have been developing rapidly ever since the early 20th century. Every change in racket design has had a huge impact on the way the sport is played both at the professional and amateur levels.

This century-old display on the development of the tennis racket likely would have been a shop piece used to sell the latest, greatest, and most expensive tennis rackets.



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