第一展區|Exhibition Area 1
The World Begins
This is the tale of how Shang （商）Dynasty (1600-1056 BC) was born through a legendary event: "The heavenly mandated mysterious Xuan Bird （玄鳥）(a bird in black) descended to give birth to Shang Dynasty," as mentioned in the "Book of Poetry, Shang Song, Xuan Bird." 《詩經．商頌．玄鳥》 The "Book of Poetry" 《詩經》 is China's earliest collection of pure literature, and it all begins with the Xuan Bird, which forms the basis of the mythological history of the Shang Dynasty.
Legend has it that Qi's （契）mother (Qi (dates unknown) was the earliest ancestor of the Shang Dynasty), Jiandi （簡狄）, consumed an egg of the Xuan Bird, and as a result, she gave birth to Qi. He played a significant role in helping Yu the Great （大禹）（Yu the Great was a legendary king in Ancient China who was famed for "the first successful state efforts at flood control”, his establishment of the Xia （夏）Dynasty which inaugurated dynastic rule in China manage floods and was rewarded by being granted the title of "Shang," which leads the Shang Clans.
In 1899, the discovery of oracle bone script in Anyang （安陽）, Henan Province （河南省）, unveiled the true story of Qi, the first ancestor of the Shang Dynasty. This revelation showed that the Shang people were indeed descendants of the Xuan Bird, and this lineage was deeply etched into the bronze civilization of the Shang and Zhou eras through oracle bone script.
A motif called “Fu Hao”（婦好）found on a bronze square cauldron depicts a person standing sideways, bowing, and swallowing something, and it is described using oracle bone script. Merchants of that time believed that life began with breaking out of the shell, starting with the Xuan Bird. This bird was highly revered as a divine creature and became the symbol of the Shang clan, ushering in a cultural era of mythical beast symbolism.
In later years, historians officially documented "Xuan Bird gives birth to Shang" in texts like "Records of the Grand Historian·Annals of Yin," 《史記·殷本紀》"Book of Documents·Zhong Hou," 《尚書•中侯》 and "Lu's Spring and Autumn Annals·Zhong Chun Ji," 《呂氏春秋•仲春紀》 thus incorporating this myth into the annals of enduring historical facts.
Let's explore this fascinating journey through ancient cultures, including oracle bone script （甲骨文）, the Book of Changes (I Ching) （易經）, the Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shan Hai Jing) （山海經）, and totemism, all of which have faded with time.