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Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Room 10 | China 3000 BC-AD 800 gallery

Discover over 3000 years of Chinese history and culture through surviving artefacts, objects and texts.

China 3000 BC - AD 800 gallery

Pre-dynastic China and the Shang Dynasty

Until about 4000 years ago, various peoples occupied the regions along the Yellow River and the Yangzi, and the east coast of modern China. The earliest documented dynasty was the Shang (around 1600-1050 BC), based in central north China. In this period society developed a religious system and written records.

The material culture of the Shang dynasty is notable for its cast bronze ritual vessels. These are the only examples of early metalwork to be cast from piece moulds rather than assembled from sheets of beaten metal. Casting was an expensive process requiring mining, smelting, mould manufacturing, polishing and finishing. Clay piece mould technology allowed repeated panels of decoration. Shang bronze ornament includes monster masks and dragons as well as abstract geometric motifs. Their symbolism, however, remains unexplained.

Ritual wine vessel, or gu (EA1956.3517) Ritual wine vessel, or gu (EA1956.3517)   Ritual food vessel, or ding (EA1956.3516) Ritual food vessel, or ding (EA1956.3516)   Ritual wine vessel, or jiao, with taotie masks and thunder-scroll pattern (EA1956.840) Ritual wine vessel, or jiao, with taotie masks and thunder-scroll pattern (EA1956.840)
Notice

Objects may have since been removed or replaced from a gallery. Click into an individual object record to confirm whether or not an object is currently on display. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis, so contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular Eastern Art object.

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