Mother and daughter in Room 33

Room 33

China and South Asia

Prehistory – present
The Sir Joseph Hotung Gallery

Visiting the gallery

Opening times

Closed until further notice.

Gallery audio guides

Available on YouTube Music and Apple Music.

This gallery explores the cultures of China and South Asia through a range of magnificent objects.

One half of the gallery presents the histories of China from 5000 BC to the present: from iconic Ming dynasty blue-and-white porcelain to delicate handscrolls, from magnificent Tang dynasty tomb figurines to modern works of art. The displays feature the richness of art and material culture in China, including painting, prints, jade, bronze, lacquer and ceramics.

The other half of the gallery presents South Asia's many histories chronologically and by region, from early human occupation to the present. Highlights include seals from the Indus civilisation, superb south Indian sculptures of Shiva and one of the finest statues of the goddess Tara from Sri Lanka. Sophisticated paintings and objects from the courts of the Mughal emperors can be seen alongside 20th-century paintings, including by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Gallery facts

  • China is one of the world's oldest civilisations. Today it covers a vast territory the size of Europe and is home to a quarter of the world's population. 
  • China has produced a highly distinctive culture with beautifully crafted objects made on an industrial scale from the earliest times. 
  • Room 33 examines the past 7,000 years of China's history, exploring the themes of writing systems, rituals, beliefs, war, international trade and more. 
  • South Asia spans India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Tibetan plateau and Sri Lanka.
  • The region is home to numerous ancient and modern languages, such as Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi and Urdu. The Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Islamic faiths have inspired magnificent architecture, sculpture, painting, literature and music.
  • Room 33 explores South Asia's history, from 1.5 million years ago to the present day. Trade, exchange, migration and political power are some of the themes examined. 


  • A large print guide is available.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the British Sign Language guide handset, available from the Audio guide Desk in the Great Court.
  • Some objects in this collection feature on the audio description guide, available from the Audio guide Desk in the Great Court.
  • Seating is available.
  • View sensory map.

Visit Accessibility at the Museum for more information.