Whether you visit a museum in the East or West, you will always see a section of pottery from the Neolithic Age, when early humans began to make utensils out of the clay around them. This exhibits the evidence of civilisation in the land.
Named “Art of Clay and Fire“, the pottery and porcelain exhibition of the Sichuan Museum featured many pottery and porcelain pieces from Neolithic to Qing dynasty spanning over 7000 years. There’s also a complete exhibit of the relics from tomb of Zhu Yuelian.
Daxi Culture 大溪文化 (4400-3300 B.C.)
The Daxi culture was a Neolithic culture centered in the Three Gorges region around the middle Yangtze, China. The culture ranged from western Hubei to eastern Sichuan and the Pearl River Delta. The site at Daxi, located in the Qutang Gorge 曲塘溝 around Wushan, Chongqing, was discovered by Nels C. Nelson in the 1920s. Many key archaeological sites from the Daxi culture, including the site at Daxi, were inundated or destroyed after the completion of the Three Gorges Dam.
This food container is painted with a geometric design. The addition of designs to functional objects tells us that there was leisure time, the capacity for boredom, and a sense of symmetry or completeness. Designs continue around the bowl and repeat the pattern in rows. The bowl was made between 7000 and 5000 years ago and was excavated at Wushan, Chongqing.
Zhou (771-225 B.C) to Han Dynasty (206 B.C – 200 A.D.) 西周到東漢
Early Western Zhou pottery, like the bronzes, continued the Shang tradition at a somewhat lower technical level, and the soft white Shang pottery disappeared.
Stemmed offering dishes, dou, were made in a hard stoneware dipped or brushed over with a glaze ranging from gray to brownish green.
This black pottery jar was from Qiang tribe of the Sichuan area. The minority race had traditionally been sheep herders and therefore adapted the Han pottery into the shape of a sheep’s head with two horns.
With the relative peace during the Han Dynasty, pottery took a turn from its simplistic outlook to more elaborate forms and used as sacrificial utensils and funerary wares. Figures like this pottery dancer 陶舞俑 were found together with the tools that were used which demonstrated the progressive skills and techniques used. This laid the foundation for the pottery that was coming after the Jin and Six Dynasties.
Only the head remained intact when it was discovered in an Eastern Han tomb in 1957. From the fragments of the body found, the complete figure would be ~1m high. The 56cm long tongue extended from the mouth to below the waist. The right hand held an axe and the left held a snake. The face is wearing a Qitou 魌頭 mask to ward off evil with its horrific outlook. This is the figure of a Fangxiangshi 方相氏 – an exorcist – and is thought to be used to protect the tomb.
The museum featured a wide selection of Han period pottery laid around different themes. One permanent exhibition of the Bashu Culture (name of Sichuan in past) featured a sizeable collection of Han dynasty pottery pieces. The ancient states of Ba and Shu were assimilated into Qin in the 6th century B.C. and became part of the Chinese nation.
Sichuan Provincial Museum 四川博物院
251 Huan Hua Nan Lu, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Date Visited : Aug 2018
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