Sichuan Museum – #6 The Warring States Bronzeware 戰國銅器 (Part 1)

Right before Qin Shihuang 秦始皇 unified the different states in China in 221 B.C., there were seven feudal states in China and the period was known as the Warring States Period 戰國時代 (475 – 221 B.C.).

Ancient Chinese Bronze Wares

The Sichuan Museum kept a good collection of bronze ritual wares and weapons from the Western Zhou and Warring States periods. While they may not be as many on display as the ones in Shanghai Museum or the China National Museum, they do have a couple of pieces of rarities that are not found anywhere else in China. They are categorised into the different chapters based on the time of their discoveries and excavations. I have rearranged it in terms of their functionalities. This post is all about the two main periods of the discoveries.

Western Zhou Bronze Ware 西周青銅器

Western Zhou dynasty (1046-771 B.C.) produced what many consider the zenith of Chinese bronze ware making. The inscriptions found in bronzes of the period documented large portions of history not found in the textbooks. From these texts once can understand the persons that commissioned these pieces, their varying rank and possibly even social class.

Bronze Lei with Ox Patterns 牛紋銅罍 and Bronze Lei with Beast and Elephant Patterns 獸面象首紋銅罍 (far end), Wine Vessels, Western Zhou (1046-771 B.C.)

The piece de resistance of the Bronze Ware exhibitions were these two pieces of wine vessels from the Western Zhou period. They were very well preserve with almost no damage to the body or the patterns on the vessels. They were unearned in a cellar in 1980 in Peng County and belonged to the King of Shu (what Sichuan was called during that period).

The medium of cast bronze gave these records permanence that were not possible from other manuscripts, like bamboo slips from that period. Unlike these relics and artefacts, the Zhou dynasty ended when the feudal states all declared themselves to be Kings and broke their allegiance to the King of Zhou. The period in history that followed was known as the Eastern Zhou that was decided into two periods – Spring-Autumn period that lasted until 475 B.C and Warring States.

Warring States Period 戰國時代

The period of over 500 years that followed Western Zhou, China was embroiled in civil wars. The first period was between 771-475 B.C. called the Spring-Autumn period 春秋時代, when Hundred School of Thoughts 諸子百家 flourished, and 4 main schools emerged towards the end – Confucianism 儒家, Legalism 法家, Taoism 道家 and Mohism 墨家.

Then it was followed by a period was known The Warring States 戰國時代 (475-221 B.C.) when these philosophical ideas where prominent in the different states. State of Qin was a proponent of Legalism. These were chaotic times, a lot of pieces of relics uncovered were related to the bloodshed and battles that went on during that time.

Bronze Ge with Inscription “Made by Shu Yuewu in the 26th Year” ”廿六年蜀月武造“銅戈, Weapon, Warring States period (475-221 B.C.)

There is a piece of Ge-dagger that was found in Fuling, Sichuan in 1972 that has its manufactured date inscribed onto the blade. The text stated that the ge was made in 271 B.C in Shu by Qin craftsman. It was evident from this blade that Qin armies were present in Shu, and according to the annals of history, had annihilated Shu by then. This blade remained one of the rare pieces of Qin weapons that were found in the area.

Sichuan Provincial Museum 四川博物院
251 Huan Hua Nan Lu, Chengdu, Sichuan, China

Date Visited : Aug 2018

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