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Ancient Bronzes

For its impressive designs, classical decorative ornamentation, and wealth of inscriptions, the bronze wares were unique national treasures for China.

History of Chinese Ancient Bronzes
As a symbol of China's ancient civilization and cultural heritage, bronze artifacts have been regarded as important treasures ever since the Shang and Zhou dynasties. Around the 21th century B.C., China entered the Bronze Age. The Erlitou culture of the late Xia dynasty in Henan province was the earliest bronze culture so far known in China.

During the early and middle Shang dynasty, bronze casting technology fully developed. Bronze technology reached its apex during the late Shang and early Western Zhou dynasties and reached the second climax from the middle Spring and Autumn to the Warring States Period.

The awesome bronzes from the People's Republic of China represent the most brilliant discoveries made in recent Chinese Bronze Age archaeology.

Types of Ancient Chinese Bronze
Ancient Chinese bronze ware falls into three types including ritual vessels, weapons, and miscellaneous objects. Ritual vessels refer to those objects employed by aristocrats in sacrificial ceremonies or audiences. Therefore there is something distinctively religious and shamanist about them. These vessels include food containers, wine vessels, water pots and musical instruments.

Bronze weapons include varieties of knife, sword, spear, halberd, axe, and dagger. And the last, the miscellaneous objects refers to bronze utensils for daily use. In ancient China the making of bronze ware was dominated by the imperial families and aristocrats. And the possession of such wares was regarded as a status symbol.

Ornaments on the Bronze Ware
The ornaments on the bronze ware are an important element of the spiritual content of the bronze ware. The ornaments on the bronze ware represent its specific image of the interweaving of mythology and reality. Wide ranges of ornaments on Chinese bronze ware, the most representative are the animal patterns. Besides, plant patterns, cloud-and-thunder patterns, geometric patterns, human face patterns, etc are also can be found.

The ornaments often give off a solemn and mysterious atmosphere, which may have something to do with the function of the bronze ware, the sacrificial and ritual articles in ancient China. The Chinese ancestors believed that the design of the ornaments could communicate with divinities and frighten demons as well. It believed that the bronze ware would do something good to them - either bring them good luck or ward off evil spirits.