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Sanxingdui Museum signed a cooperation agreement with Tencent to integrate its intellectual property (IP) with the tech company’s music and video game departments.

What is Sanxingdui?

Located in Sichuan province, southwest China, it houses Bronze Age artifacts dating back 3,000 years from the Shu Kingdom, an ancient state. First discovered in 1929, archeologists put Sanxingdui on the map in the late ’80s and continue to make discoveries today. It recently applied for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status.

What is Tencent?

Technology giant dominant in China’s social media landscape (WeChat) and the world’s gaming ecosystem (holds significant stakes in Riot Games and Epic Games).

Why the deal matters

The museum’s March livestream featured the unearthing of relics from the Sanxingdui site in Sichuan Province. Image: The Paper

The Tencent deal embodies Sanxingdui’s ongoing push for broader recognition. The museum may lack the cultural clout and international fame of Xi’an’s Terracotta Army or the Great Wall of China, but it’s using technology, gaming, and youth culture to elevate its status both domestically and abroad (hence its seeking UNESCO status).

Key to this push is connecting with China’s post-’80s and post-’90s generations. In the early days of the pandemic, it enthusiastically embraced livestreaming, a tool it used to show millions of viewers how archaeologists were unearthing more than 500 artifacts in Spring 2021. It has also been at the forefront of China’s craze for creating cultural products popular with younger consumers (known as wenchuang) — it was one of the first museums to create blind box figurines using its IP.

The Tencent collaboration fits neatly. On the gaming side, Sanxingdui will work with TiMi Studios to integrate its IP with titles such as Honor of Kings and QQ Speed — imagine landscapes, buildings, levels created using the site’s archeological features. In music, it will host promotions with QQ Music such as song competitions. In literature, it will use its QQ Reading app and publishing network to promote works related to Sanxingdui culture. 

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What Tencent said

“The goal is to create Chinese cultural symbols with global influence by using IP. Sanxingdui is a brilliant label of ancient Shu civilization and early Chinese civilization, and we are looking forward to working with Sanxingdui Museum to bring new possibilities for the expansion and promotion of Sanxingdui’s cultural IP through games, online literature, music, and animation.” — Dai Bin, Vice General Manager, Tencent Interactive Entertainment Market Department

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Cultural Collaborations