Ming: The Golden Empire

‘Ming’ roughly translated means brilliant or bright, a translation that seems fitting for this enlightening exhibition. Often hailed as the starting point of modern china, the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) saw economy and culture flourish. It was one of the most influential and aesthetically striking periods in the development of modern China as we know it today, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall perhaps the most striking testimonies to its magnificence and enduring influence.

A welcome recluse from the mania of the mile and a unique opportunity to see some of the treasures of China’s past

However in this carefully crafted exhibition we’re taken deeper into the details of the culture that helped to produce such mammoths of history. We’re shown the smaller things like ornate pots, dishes and porcelain cups, the intricate techniques of Cloisonné abound along with embellished caskets, delicate silk brocade: a wealth of treasures spread out before our eyes.

The entire exhibition reads as a fascinating overview of a period that remains neglected. It’s odd to be reminded that as the Forbidden City was completed in 1420, Brunelleschi had only just begun work on the great dome of the Basilica in Florence. The Ming Dynasty not only saw the development of the very idea of ‘Literati’ culture, but the idea that art itself should be an integral part of culture as a whole, a form of self-improvement. The three ‘perfections’ of painting, poetry and calligraphy, ensured a system in which creativity and high culture became inextricably intertwined.

Yet the most exciting features of the exhibition are not the gold adorned artefacts, but those more delicate and basic necessities of creation: brushes, ink pots, a desk on which to create. The entire concept of Literati culture and the ‘art of the brush’ it valued so highly is reconstructed through clever displays of paintings amidst the very objects that the literati surrounded themselves with like their scrolls and home furnishings, places and objects where the very art of living a creative and cultured life comes to the fore.

This exhibition is not an extensive insight into the Ming Empire, (that comes later this year at the British Museum) but this exhibition gives a gorgeous glimpse at what’s to come. A welcome recluse from the mania of the mile and a unique opportunity to see some of the treasures of China’s past (120 objects have come all the way from The Nanjing Museum) this exhibition is a solace in the busy streets of Edinburgh and definitely worth a visit.

Reviews by Thea Hawlin

Zoo Southside

Beyond the Body

★★
Zoo

Icarus

★★★
Zoo Southside

An Invitation

★★★
Zoo Southside

Pss Pss

★★★★
Scottish National Portrait Gallery

John Ruskin: Artist and Observer

★★★★
Blackwell's Bookshop

Blackwell's Writers at the Fringe

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Discover the extraordinary story of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), a period of China’s history marked by economic strength and a dramatic flourishing of the arts. Meaning brilliant or bright, the Ming era represents the starting point of modern China. A collection of original artefacts from Nanjing Museum introduce key aspects of the Ming dynasty, focusing on the remarkable cultural, technological and economic achievements of the period. This will be the only UK showing of this internationally significant exhibition.

Most Popular See More

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets