Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ancient Chinese Bronzes

Ancient Chinese Bronze Artifacts have decorative embellishments that show a grand mastery of metal craft. We know that several shapes are derived from pottery forms and vessels but others seem to be evolved and changed as the ancient smiths increased their abilities and skills. Ceramic tripods also appear but never with this elaborate degree of decoration until molds were invented centuries later. 

My next series of Technozi will focus on these bronzes and related developments on jade and ceramics such as the replicas created during the Qing dynasty. 

Most these elaborate vessels ceased to be made perhaps because of a cultural change towards metal being used for statues and mirrors and bells and for  vessels  for temples and the court to be made of jade  clay or gold or silver.

It may be that natural copper arsenic alloys became harder to find and mine and that with the introduction of iron and steel it became easier to create tools capable of carving jade and incising patterns into gold and silver?

Personally I suspect the aristocracy became more and more obsessed with acquiring jade objects when the new sources in Central Asia became available as trade routes extended. We read of white AND green / blue  stone ware and porcelain being compared to jade not bronze.

One form that is still used today and often seen in temples to hold incense sticks is the square ding so perhaps some of those "ritual" vessels contained sand rather than wine or potions or meat offerings?