Introduction To Chinese Bronze History
Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin with lower melting point and a higher degree of hardness than those of copper. When it is cast, bronze has the advantages of minimum air bubble production and maximum flow quality and can produce objects with razor-sharp edges or exquisite decoration, thus making it a suitable material for durable weapons, tools, and containers. China employed bronze objects as long as four thousand years ago in the period of the Longshan culture and brought the use of bronze ceremonial vessels to a peak in the Shang (c.1600-1046 BC) and Zhou (1045-256 BC) dynasties.
|Shang Dynasty Bronze, Chinese 1,100 BC.
The spiritual practices of the Shang dynasty people arose from the belief that the spirits of ancestors in the supernatural world were forever in control of man's earthly well-being, and it was therefore necessary that offerings of prayer and food constantly be made to them. From the evidence of oracle bone inscriptions we know that not only did the people of the Shang dynasty offer sacrifices to a wide range of phenomena, but their ceremonies were varied and complex. The vessels used by the ruling house and nobility to offer food or wine in these sacrificial ceremonies were cast of bronze. Their types were extremely varied; many had their origin in everyday objects of pottery or wood.
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