Friday, January 9, 2015

Shang Bronzes from the Freer-Sackler

The Freer and Sackler Museums in Washington have put high-quality images of their entire collections online. To celebrate I am going to be posting images from the collection, starting with the most famous objects, the Shang bronzes. Above, a ritual wine goblet or gu.

The Shang Dynasty is the traditional name for the civilization of northern China between 1600 and 1050 BCE. This was the mother culture to classical Chinese civilization, when Chinese writing and other long-lasting cultural traits first appeared. Ornament in the shape of a mouse.

These objects were looted from tombs by the thousands in the warlord period of Chinese history, especially in the teens and twenties, and western collectors snapped them up. Wine ewer in the shape of a tiger.

Jade ax with dragons, and detail.

Ritual wine pouring vessel.

Wine vessel.

Detail of a wine vessel.

Jade arrowhead.

Detail of bronze and jade dagger.

Ritual basin, and detail. I've always loved these; like all my favorite Bronze Age stuff they are just beyond the reach of reliable written records, lost in the mists of legend but not completely hidden from our understanding.

No comments: