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Princess Sissi Exhibtion Touring in China


Exhibition about life of popular Austro-Hungarian monarch known as Sissi is currently touring China. Wang Kaihao reports.

Sissi's real life is now being presented through an exhibition in Beijing, with nearly 150 relics related to her, or to Hungary, loaned by the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest.

The exhibition, Sissi and Hungary: The Magnificent Life of Hungarian Aristocracy in the 17th to 19th Centuries, will run through Jan 3 at the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City.

A replica of the Holy Crown of Hungary, dating back to 1000 AD, is also on display. The crown, made of silver gilt, pearl and cloisonne, was used to prove the legitimacy of the monarchy in olden times. The original is displayed in the Hungarian Parliament and is heavily guarded. "It's very important in Hungarian history - not only as a sign of royalty," Vagra says. "Even though there is no king now, the crown expresses the spirit of a nation and holds the country together."

Hungarians, also known as Magyars, are thought to have first settled in today's Hungary in 896 after migrating from the East. According to one theory, they are descendants of Huns - the Eurasian nomadic people who possibly had connections with the Xiongnu people from China.

"We are unique in Europe due to our Eastern origins," Vagra says. "Exhibits such as weapons also show some Eastern characteristics."

Szonja Buslig, a cultural counselor at the Hungarian embassy in Beijing, says the exhibition at the Palace Museum reveals part of the larger cultural cooperation between China and Hungary.

In the Xiongnu city ruins in Yulin, in Northwest China's Shaanxi province, archaeologists from both countries are conducting studies comparing finds from there with Hun relics unearthed in Hungary.

Hungarian scholars also recently conducted field research in Shandan county, Gansu province, to look for more evidence of links.

"After starting from such a familiar topic (Sissi), we're planning another major cultural relic exhibition in China," Buslig says. "It will reveal how our ancestors migrated from the East."

She says Hungary will participate in more projects in an upcoming museum of Xiongnu history in Yulin.

Hungary became the first European country to sign a memorandum of understanding with China on June 6, 2016, on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Buslig says the initiative will create opportunities for closer cultural ties between the two countries.

Under the framework, Vagra says, the rich history of Hungarian bronzeware will be shown in China.

He adds that his museum also plans to introduce an exhibition on ancient Chinese civilization in Hungary, which he believes will easily strike an emotional chord in Budapest.

The ongoing exhibition about Sissi visited Shanghai before it came to Beijing in late September.

It will move to Yunnan and Shaanxi provinces in January.

China Daily

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