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Posts Tagged ‘Bronze Ware’

Shanghai Museum

A wood carving Guanyin statue of the Song dynastyThe scope, depth and quality of its collections, and the striking architecture and use of modern technology make the Shanghai Museum one of the most famous if not the most famous in China. It covers an area of 38,000 square meters, with a scale that surpasses the old museum several fold. The exterior of the museum utilizes the shape of an ancient bronze ding, specifically a Chen ding, with its rather archaic flavor. The structure and materials of the entire building, however, are an accomplishment of the most modern technology.

The Shanghai Museum is mainly a museum for ancient arts. At present it is divided into ten sections. These are: ancient Chinese bronzes, sculpture, ceramics, jades, seals, calligraphy, coin and currency, paintings, Ming and Qing-dynasty furniture, and crafts of China’s national minorities. In addition to these ten permanent exhibitions, the museum often holds small-scale exhibitions and also exhibits articles from elsewhere on a short-term basis. The Museum also exhibits its material in museums both within China and abroad.

Among the holdings of the Museum many items are superlative works of art and are unique in the entire country. These include in particular the bronzes, calligraphy, paintings, and Ming and Qing furniture.

China’s Shang and Zhou-period bronzes are an important testimony to the ancient civilization of the country. When visitors enter the Ancient Bronzes Hall, the presentation and atmosphere of the rooms expresses the cultural atmosphere of the Bronze Age. The subdued dark-green tone of the walls imparts an ancient atmosphere, the simple and elegant display cases and the lighting are carefully designed to enhance the experience. Some 400 exquisite bronze items are displayed in a space of 1,200 square meters, perfectly reflecting the history of the development of China’s ancient bronze arts.

The Calligraphy Hall includes works from many dynasties; in chronological order it displays the history of the marvelous genius of Chinese calligraphic arts. The aura of the hall is scholarly and elegant, assisted by automatic lighting in display cases that protects the art by shining only when the visitor is viewing a work. Among these works are a number of unique world treasures.

The Chinese Painting Hall of the Museum similarly has a touch of traditional architectural style to it, combined with an atmosphere of Confucian elegance.  Around 120 masterpieces are displayed in the 1,200-square-meter exhibition space. These date from the Tang dynasty to modern times but do not include contemporary works.

The apex of Chinese furniture creation occurred during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Walking into the Ming and Qing Furniture Hall is like walking back into the gardens and rooms of the Ming and Qing dynasty. In some 700 square  meters of space are exhibited some 100 pieces of superlative Chinese Ming and Qing-dynasty  furniture. Among these are Ming pieces that are fluid in line and harmonious in proportion. The Qing pieces have more complex ornamentation and are often made of thicker, heavier wood.

The underground part of the Shanghai Museum also has some courtyard gardens that imitate authentic Chinese traditions. Although these are hidden deeply underground, their architecture and environment seem light and airy.

Address: Shanghai, Peoples Great Road, #201

View of Chinese Bronze Ware

A wine vessel of the Shang DynastyBronze is the earliest of all alloys produced by the human race.  In China, the earliest bronze ware were produced in the late period of the primitive society, and those produced during the Shang-Zhou period, in large quantities with the production techniques rated as better than ever before, highlight the social estate system practiced at the time. Bronze ware used before the Qin-Han period fall into three categories – those used at sacrificial ceremonies held by the state and aristocratic families, those for daily use by aristocrats and those used as funerary objects. Bronze articles for practical use include weapons, musical instruments, cooking utensils, and food, wine and water containers, as well as ornamental articles on horse chariots.

Bronze weapons unearthed so far are mostly swords, axes, axe-spears and dagger-axes.  Bells in complete sets known as A-wine-vessel-and-a-water-container-unearthed-from-a-tomb-of-the-Warring-States-period-in-Suixian-County-Hubei-Provincebianzhong and large bells known as bo are the most typical bronze musical instruments played at sacrificial ceremonies and on other important occasions. Tripods and quadripods with hollow legs (li), which originated from prehistory cooking utensils, were used to boil whole animal carcasses for sacrificial ceremonies and feasting. Rules based on the social estate system were strictly followed with regard to the use of bronze ware. Nine tripods and eight food containers known as gui were allowed on occasions presided over by the “Son of  of Heaven in rank may use seven tripods and six guis or five tripods and four guis. In short, the number of bronze containers decreased progressively according to the degrading ranks of the users. There were also stringent rules on the size and weight of the utensils for users of each rank. Wine sets are in greater variety than any other kind of bronze ware we have found so far – possibly because people of the Shang-Zhou period were fond of drinking wine.  The earliest bronze wine sets include jue (wine vessel with three legs and a loop handle), jia (round-mouthed wine vessel with three legs) and hu (squaremouthed wine containers). Many wine containers take the shape of birds or animals.