"Secrets of the Silk Road" exhibition opens in Santa Ana, California
A groundbreaking exhibition which features more than 150 precious objects from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, the People's Republic of China, will open to public at Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California on Saturday, organizers said on Thursday.

"Secrets of the Silk Road," which showcases a great number of pieces of excavated cultural relics on display at Bowers Museum, provides a window on all aspects of the people and cultures of the Silk Road during its early period. The extreme age and superb preservation of the objects, some dating back 4,000 years ago, has set this special exhibition apart from other shows.

The exhibits come from the collections of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum and the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology in Urumqi, China. This is the first time many of these pieces of treasure will be seen outside of Asia. Many objects have predate the renown Silk Road by almost 2,000 years, reflecting a much more global population than previously realized.

"The opportunity to see these priceless objects will enable visitors to gain a new perspective on the complex cultures and the rich trading crossroads that characterized Eastern Central Asia in ancient times," says exhibition co-curator Victor Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at University of Pennsylvania.

"This exhibition will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to gain an appreciation of life in Eastern Central Asia both before and after the formation of the fabled Silk Routes in the late 2nd century BC," he added.

Sheng Chunshou, Director of the Cultural Relics Administration, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, said the objects are excavated from many places across Xinjiang, reflecting different characteristics of agriculture and nomadic customs throughout ages.

"Many of the objects are put on display in a country outside of Asia for the first time ever," he said. "This is evident that the Chinese government has attached a great importance to the cultural interaction between China and the United States."

The exhibition has taken organizers almost ten years to prepare. Among the objects are two mummies excavated in ancient tombs in Xinjiang. One of them is a 8 to 10 months old baby, who was wrapped in woolly blanket and donned a blue-and-red headdress made of light wool. The other is the body of a beautiful lady in her early 40s. She was surprisingly pretty, with fine lines and intact eyelashes and shoulder-length hair. She was aptly termed "A belle from Xiaohe." Xiaohe refers to the area where a number of ancient tombs were excavated by Chinese archaeologists in recent years.

The Silk Road got its name as the vast amounts of silk and other merchandise -- spices, gold, precious metals and stones, ivory and others -- used to be carried back and forth from Eastern Asia, beginning in Xi'an in central China, to major Mediterranean cities in the West.

The exhibition will remain open to the public until July 25 before it travels to other museums in Houston, Texas and Pennsylvania.

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