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Sanxingdui Bronzes Neolithic Culture Shu Kingdom

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Presentation on theme: "Sanxingdui Bronzes Neolithic Culture Shu Kingdom"— Presentation transcript:

1 Sanxingdui Bronzes Neolithic Culture Shu Kingdom
Chengdu,China Sichuan province

2 Map showing location

3 Finding the site In the 1920’s, farmers in Sichuan province started finding jade objects and a few pieces of bronze in their fields. They reported these objects to the authorities and China sent out archaeologists to uncover their source. They found a large cache of jade objects from the Shu Kingdom . It wasn’t until later in the century, that the two ceremonial pits were found. These contain the bulk of the bronze objects on display. The museum was built to house them and work continues to excavate the area for more Shu objects.

4 How does bronze technology develop? 2. What is necessary to make bronze? 3. What would the environmental impact be from melting metals to create bronze? 4. Who might make bronze in this society ?

5 Sanxingdui Museum

6 Symbol from this culture

7 Cowry Shells were a trade good.

8 Ge dagger axe

9 Jade Ge daggars

10 Bronze Tree

11 Bronze is made by melting 90 % copper with approximately 10 % tin
Bronze is made by melting 90 % copper with approximately 10 % tin. This mixture must be heated to about 1000 degrees C. It can then be poured into moulds and shaped into many shapes and sizes. The moulds can be decorated simply or very elaborately.

12 Top of the tree

13 The Shu Kingdom site has approximately the same size as a Shang dynasty city at the same time, BCE. The discovery in 1986, of 2 large sacrificial pits with over 1,000 objects, caused enormous excitement. Pit 1 dates from the 14th century BCE while Pit 2 dates from 1100 BCE.

14 Part of the tree

15 The fantastical shapes found in some of these objects may reflect imagination or they may reflect actual elements found in their environment. Since no written record exists to tell us, we’ll probably never know what their inspiration was.

16 Bird at base of the Tree

17 The bronze tree stands thirteen feet tall and contains lots of ornamental figures on the branches. It is one of the most unusual objects found in the pits. The largest mask found is more than four feet wide and contains a large amount of bronze.

18 A practical hinge made of bronze.

19 Before this discovery, bronze statues of the size of human figures,bronze heads as large as a human head, and gilded masks the size of a human face had only been found in Egypt and Greece. Technology for bronze making was being used in 3 places very far apart geographically but at similar times.

20 Unique Bronze Masks

21 A smaller bronze mask

22 What does this mask remind you of ?

23 Braided hair in back

24 1. Have you ever seen anything like them before. 2
1.Have you ever seen anything like them before ? 2.How much copper and tin would have to be mined to create them? 3.How much fuel was needed to melt the metal to cast these pieces ? 4.How did this impact their society ?


26 Multiple Masks

27 Inside a bronze mask

28 What do you learn from looking at the inside of a mask. 2
What do you learn from looking at the inside of a mask ? 2. What level of technology does the creation of such large bronze masks demonstrate?

29 The bronze top of a wooden staff

30 A Gold Covered Mask

31 Does this culture appear primitive based on their bronze technology
Does this culture appear primitive based on their bronze technology ? Other areas which were developing similar sophisticated technology at the same time were Egypt, ancient Greece and India, Rome and Mesopotamia. We know the Shu kingdom had 5 major cities in their kingdom.

32 Headgear worn by masks

33 Primitive Pottery also found here

34 The ancient Shu Kingdom also developed technology for making fired porcelain. They created gray pottery and then red pottery. Most objects are cups, jars, bowls, and plates fired in an annular kiln with a loose base. Many show they did not fire long enough.

35 How some figures were dressed

36 Ceramic technology

37 Masks in shrubbery


39 Display of Gold Masks

40 These objects were found in a sacrificial pit and most had been burned or broken. The function of many objects is unknown. This large cache of bronze objects dates from around 1200 BCE. Their discovery has forced scholars to reevaluate when and where bronze technology began in China.

41 Shang Dynasty Bronzes Technology and Art from Ancient China

42 The Shang dynasty had bronze technology, a specialized work force to create it and earthenware which was almost like porcelain. They also started using writing on Oracle bones for divination. This script was usually written on animal bones . Then they changed to always using turtle shells.

43 Shanghai Museum Bronze Gallery

44 A large Bronze Zun, a wine vessel

45 An intricate top for a staff.

46 Shanghai Bronzes Included in the collection of the Shanghai museum bronzes are some incredibly elaborate bronze vessels. These show technical mastery of bronze working. The detailed ornamentation found on these pieces reflects the incredible technical mastery as well as the creative genius of bronze age China.

47 Bronze Gallery

48 A tripod vessel called a “ Jia “ which was used for wine. Late Shang

49 Elaborate ornamentation

50 Ya Fu Square Lei, a wine vessel from the late Shang dynasty
Ya Fu Square Lei, a wine vessel from the late Shang dynasty. This vessel uses both high and low relief decoration.

51 Vessel with dragon detail

52 Dragon detail up close

53 If you did not know where this vessel came from what provides clues to its origin?

54 Large bronze vessel

55 Handle detail

56 Ram’s head detail

57 Large dragon handles

58 A decorated bell

59 A bronze Zhong , a musical instrument.

60 During this period every feudal state had its own bronze-casting foundry. Although some bronzes were roughly cast, many vessels produced in these foundries were finely made and quite elaborate in their decoration.

61 Small dragon in bronze

62 An Ox shaped Zun, used for wine
An Ox shaped Zun, used for wine.early 6th century – 476 BCE Shanxi province.

63 Head of the ox

64 Chinese bronzes were among the finest in the world.
They showed technical mastery of working bronze into any possible form. Their imaginative use of bronze to create tripod pots, urns, and many other ornamental vessels showed their technical genius. These Chinese bronzes display a brilliance of expression which indicates technical mastery of this technology. This is a Jian used for water.

65 Additional examples

66 Elaborate ornamentation in bold, deep cut linear elements
Elaborate ornamentation in bold, deep cut linear elements. 16th-13th cent BCE

67 Notice the deep relief in the decorations

68 A Hou chuo square ding which was a food vessel.

69 Very detailed decorations

70 A He, a wine vessel with a dragon spout and animal mask
A He, a wine vessel with a dragon spout and animal mask. Early 7th century BCE

71 How is technology used to produce art
How is technology used to produce art? What does art reflect about Chinese society ? What elements shown in these bronzes are unique to China ? Why?

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