Shanghai Museum: Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery

Shanghai Museum

At the Shanghai Museum I started from the ground and moved up through the Galleries. I spent a day in each of the galleries of interest. Later in the week I revisited individual objects that sparked my thoughts and endured in my memory.

Inside; Central Ocular

To study the patterns and motifs of China one must start with an in depth look at Chinese Bronzes. So I first moved through the Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery. The most striking objects were the earliest bronzes from the Eritlou Culture of the late Xia Age. These showed the first appearance of basic mark making in the form of the animal mask motif and turquoise inlay.

Yue (Weapon) inlaid with Turquoise Cross Pattern, Late Xia (18th – 16th Century BC)

The extensive collection reinforced the gradual evolution of a system of symbols that were firstly engraved then molded in ancient bronze vessels for every day life and ceremony. Their importance was grounded in early tribe’s nature worship; with a dependence on rain and sunshine for food and a belief in the spirits of rivers, clouds and mountains that surrounded them. The forms of the symbols were derived as a means to plainly identify and simply depict these elements. It was a combination of the simplified motif realized through a method of marking that in turn was dependent on the qualities and/or properties of the materials. The symbols have survived today both in material and in spirit because of the decisive marks made in these lasting materials.

Zhu Jue (Wine Vessel), Late Shang (13th – 11th century BC) The shape of the wen vessel reminds me of a hungry baby bird demanding food from its parents

See Horeur de vide post for more beautiful objects with Daiper Patterns from the Shanghai Museum’s Ancient Chinese Bronze Collection.

The Shanghai Museum posts are dedicated to Rachel Kelloway; my oldest and dearest friend.

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