The long period of the Bronze Age in China, which began around 2000 B.C., saw the growth and maturity of a civilization thought would last another two-thousand years. The era of the Shang and the Zhou dynasties is generally known as the Bronze Age of China. Bronze, used to fashion weapons, parts of chariots, and ritual vessels, played an important role in the material culture of the time. The earliest Chinese bronzes were created by a method known as piece-mold casting. The piece-mold method was most likely the only one used in China until at least the end of the Shang dynasty. The similarities and differences of the bronze creation are apparent as the dynasty changes from Xia to Shang and then to Zhou.
In many history books, it is known that the Bronze Age did not occur until later in the Xia dynasty which explains why there were only a few pieces. The Xia Dynasty, ruled from 2207 BC to 1766 BC, has been called the first dynasty. Many of the pieces in the museum about the Xia dynasty were labeled as late Xia which means the Bronze Age actually started toward the end of the Xia Dynasty. It is the period of the Erlitou culture. The establishment of Xia Dynasty marked the start of Chinese slavery society featuring the utilization of bronze tools. Since this is the start of the Bronze Age, the design of the pieces is simple. There are no complicated designs. Shang dynasty is also called Yin dynasty in history. It has been said that Shang dynasty was built by a rebel leader who overthrew the last Xia ruler. Shang dynasty ran from 1700 B.C. to 1027 B.C. One of the most distinctive and characteristic images decorating Shang-dynasty bronze vessels is called taotie. The primary attribute of this frontal animal-like mask is a prominent pair of eyes. While following a general form, the appearance and specific components of taotie masks varied by period and place of production. The bronze pieces in the Shang Dynasty were made very precisely. Many...
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