No. 3 bronze sacred tree of Sanxingdui initially restored
By Ye Qing

Archaeologists have begun assembling and restoring the No. 3 bronze sacred tree unearthed at the Sanxingdui Ruins site in Guanghan City, southwest China's Sichuan Province and achieved preliminary restoration results, under a restoration project approved by China's National Cultural Heritage Administration, according to Sanxingdui Museum's announcement on Thursday.

The No. 1 bronze sacred tree, which is 396 centimeters high, is one of the treasures of Sanxingdui Museum. It was excavated in 1986 at No. 2 pit of Sanxingdui Site, and sheds some light on the Shu culture thousands of years ago. Few people know that besides the No. 1 bronze sacred tree, several other bronze sacred trees were excavated from the pit, of which the No. 3 bronze sacred tree is one of them.

In 2019, with the approval of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, cultural preservation workers started the restoration of No. 3 of the bronze sacred tree, according to Yu Jian, director of Sanxingdui Museum's exhibition and preservation department.

After about one year's work, some 70 bronze pieces belonging to the sacred tree that were unearthed 35 years ago have been pieced together, reproducing the beauty of the ancient artifact.

"The restoration process was generally smooth because the restoration clues were clear," according to Yu Jian. The No. 3 and No. 1 bronze sacred tree are of completely different shapes. The branches of the No. 3 sacred tree are in a twisted shape and the main trunk is about 1 cm in diameter, so it is relatively easy to find parts of similar shape and size among the large number of bronze remains unearthed, Yu added.

Although the clues to the restoration are clear, there are still some mysteries on No. 3 bronze tree that need further study. There was gold foil on the trunk of the No. 3 sacred tree, so how far did gold foil cover the surface of the tree? The hooks left under the branches show that there were ornaments hanging on them. Are these ornaments related to the small gold ornaments unearthed from No. 1 and No. 2 pits of Sanxingdui Ruins?

Yu responded that the restoration work must be based on sound scientific evidence, and that the restoration work of the No. 3 bronze sacred tree has been postponed until the excavation of the six newly discovered pits at Sanxingdui Ruins is further carried out to find out more information. "Our biggest hope is that the restoration of the sacred tree will be completed as soon as possible and that it will be available to the public as soon as possible," Yu added.

Once fully assembled, the sacred tree will be exhibited together with the No.1 bronze sacred tree, one of the key highlights at the Sanxingdui Museum, to showcase the religious beliefs and remarkable artistic creativity of people in ancient times.

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