1-17 of 17 results  for:

  • 1000–300 BCE x
  • Archaeology x
  • East Asian Art x
Clear all

Article

Baoji  

Li Liu

[Pao-chi]

Chinese city in Shaanxi Province, where several important sites from the Neolithic to Eastern Zhou periods (c. 6500–256 bc) have been discovered. A Neolithic village site was excavated in 1958–60 and 1977–8 at Beishouling. The cultural deposits found belong to the Laoguantai culture and the Yangshao culture, dated by radiocarbon analysis to c. 5000–c. 2500 bc. The ceramics are reddish in colour, and some vessels are painted. Major pottery types include the pointed-bottom vase, flat-bottom jar, round-bottom bowl and suantou hu (garlic-head) vessel (for illustration of shapes see China, fig.). The most elaborate ones are a boat-shaped vessel with a net design and a garlic-shaped vessel with a design of a bird pecking at a fish.

At Rujiazhuang, Zhuyuangou and Zhifangtou, three cemeteries of the Western Zhou period (c. 1050–771 bc) were excavated in 1974–81. They belonged to the state of Yu, a Western Zhou feudal state not recorded in ancient texts. The excavations uncovered 27 tombs, two sacrificial pits containing chariots and horses, and four pits containing only horses. More than 2600 grave goods, including bronze, jade, stone, bone, shell and ceramic objects, were unearthed. The findings provide evidence of a culture combining a unique local style with influences from the Western Zhou, the Siwa culture in Gansu Province and the Shu culture in Sichuan Province. Many stone and jade ornaments and bronze vessels are decorated with animal motifs, and bronze figurines depict details of dress and hairstyles suggesting that the Yu people were culturally closely related to the Di and Qiang peoples in north-western and south-western areas....

Article

Mary S. Lawton

Wall stretching across northern China from Hebei Province in the north-east through Shanxi, Shaanxi and Ningxia provinces to Gansu Province in the west (see fig.). Running through inhospitable mountains and deserts, with numerous offshoots and parallel structures, it is one of the most spectacular feats of engineering in the history of the world. Although it was built primarily as a defence against the Central Asian nomads, it also provided a relatively efficient thoroughfare for the movement of troops, horses and supplies across difficult terrain. According to the traditional Chinese view, the wall also created a spiritual and physical barrier between the ‘superior’ and sedentary culture of China and the ‘inferior’ culture of its nomadic neighbours.

Defensive walls, such as that measuring 7 km at Zhengzhou, Henan, were a feature of Chinese cities from at least the Shang period (c. 1600–c. 1050 bc). Such building skills were extended to much grander projects; construction of the ...

Article

Houma  

Robert W. Bagley

[Hou-ma]

City in southern Shanxi Province, China. The Eastern Zhou (771–256 bc) state of Jin had its capital at Houma (anc. Xintian) from 585 bc until the dissolution of the state in 453 bc. Archaeological work has been carried out at the site since the 1950s, and a number of major finds have been reported.

Of great historical interest are deposits of jade tablets that bear brush-written inscriptions recording oaths of allegiance pledged by vassals to their lords (see China, People’s Republic of §IX 1.). More pertinent to art history is the excavation of a vast foundry site that yielded some 30,000 fragments of clay moulds, models, and other foundry debris. This debris is important partly because it throws light on casting processes and partly because it exactly documents the objects and designs that the foundry produced. The Houma foundry used a highly sophisticated pattern-block mouldmaking technique (...

Article

Jincun  

Bent Nielsen

[Chin-ts’un; Kin-ts’un]

Site in Henan Province, China, c. 115 km north-east of Luoyang. Eight tombs of the late Warring States period (403–221 bc) were discovered there. Lavishly furnished with objects of jade, glass, gold, silver, bronze and similar materials, the tombs were looted by local people from 1928 to 1931. Some 300 items (Toronto, Royal Ont. Mus.) were collected and described by Bishop William Charles White, a Canadian who was stationed at nearby Kaifeng at the time. A selection of about 200 objects from private and public collections all over the world was subsequently published (see Umehara). Several of the artefacts contained in the graves were inscribed and thus can be ascribed to specific centuries and feudal states of the Warring States period, leading to some disagreement as to the origin of the tombs: they are considered either to have been constructed by the House of Zhou and to contain presents and tributary objects from the feudal states, or to have been constructed by the state of Qin and to contain war booty....

Article

J. Edward Kidder jr

Japanese site near Kizukuri, Aomori Prefecture, and the name applied both to a large class of pottery made in northern Japan in the Latest Jōmon period (c. 1000-c. 300 bc) and to the culture that produced such wares. Referred to in feudal land records as early as 1623, Kamegaoka was first excavated in 1896, was designated a National Historical Site in 1944 and was systematically excavated in 1950 by Keio University in Tokyo.

The lowest culture layers yielded abundant artefacts, including highly finished small pottery vessels, clay figurines (dōgu; see Japan §V 2.), engraved pottery plaques, stone swords and phalli, magatama (comma-shaped beads), antler and bone tools and wooden and lacquered objects. The burial of figurines with other artefacts indicates a site of communal ritual activity. The figurines are characterized by ‘snow goggle’ (shakōki) eyes and elaborate headdresses, distinctive features that also appear in figurines found outside the Kamegaoka culture....

Article

Pazyryk  

L. L. Barkova

Site of barrows located 1600 m above sea-level on the upper reaches of the Biya River in the Gorno–Altay Mountains, on the border between Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia. During the 1st millennium bc the high valleys of the Altay region were inhabited by nomads with large herds of cattle. Their barrows or burial mounds (6th–4th century bc) have produced a collection of c. 6000 artefacts now in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. Excavation of the Pazyryk burial was begun in 1929 by S. I. Rudenko and M. P. Gryaznov. Rudenko studied the remaining barrows in 1947–9 and in 1950 and 1954 excavated several more Central Altay barrows near the village of Tuekta and in Bashadar. All the barrows were frozen. Preserved in the permafrost of the tombs were items of wood, felt, leather, fur, silk and other organic materials. The mound was a stone construction, which prevented the frozen ground beneath from thawing: any rain-water penetrating the barrow changed to ice in the extreme winter conditions....

Article

Colin Mackenzie

[P’ing-shan]

Site in Hebei Province, China, the capital of the ancient Chinese state of Zhongshan and the necropolis of its rulers. Zhongshan was established by the Di people during the Spring and Autumn period (722–481 bc). Overthrown in 406 bc, it was re-established in 378 bc, probably by descendants of the original ruling house or by a family related to the Zhou dynasty. Six large and mid-sized tombs were found in 1974, of which the largest, tombs 1 and 6, have been excavated. Tomb 1 has been identified as that of the ruler Cuo (or Xi; d c. 308 bc), while Tomb 6 belonged to a ruler of the previous generation. According to a bronze plaque found in it, Tomb 1 was designed to be the centrepiece of a walled mausoleum of five tombs, each surmounted by an earth mound and a funerary hall. Only tombs 1 and 2 were completed, however (...

Article

Li Liu

[Shang-ts’un ling]

Site near Sanmenxia in northern Henan Province, China. A cemetery for the nobility of the state of Guo (annexed by the state of Chu in 655 bc) was excavated here in 1956–7 and dated to a period ranging from the late part of the Western Zhou (c. 1050–771 bc) to the early part of the Spring and Autumn period (722–481 bc). The excavation yielded 234 tombs, three horse-and-chariot burials and one horse burial. The grave goods include ceramic, bronze, stone and jade objects. Some 181 bronze ritual objects were unearthed, including ding, li, xian, gui, hu, he, pan and yi vessels (for illustrations of these types see China, fig.), which were decorated with various motifs such as taotie (animal-masks; see China, People’s Republic of, §VII, 3, (ii), (a)), kui (mythical animals), panlong (intertwined dragons), fish and birds. A large number of bronze weapons, tools and chariot parts were also found. Other grave goods include jade and precious-stone necklaces and earrings, lacquerware, musical instruments, and three bronze mirrors with dragon, deer and bird designs. Four of the bronzes bear inscriptions including the character ‘Guo’. Some of the chariots, made of wood and painted, are well preserved, and illustrate the range of types that had developed by this time. New large tombs were discovered at Shangcun ling in the 1990s....

Article

Harald Böckman

[Shih-chai-shan]

Chinese burial site in Jinning County, 56 km south-west of Kunming, Yunnan Province. The site comprises 13 tombs of kings and nobles of the kingdom of Dian, dating from the late Eastern Zhou (771–256 bc) to Han (206 bcad 220) periods. They yielded a spectacular assemblage of bronze artefacts made by the lost-wax process, the most prominent of which are bronze drums and drum-shaped cowrie-shell receptacles. The most significant artistic features of the bronzes are the mature level of artistic execution of the decoration on the drums and receptacles and the graphic and plastic portrayal of human and animal figures. The graphic representations are found on the drums, whereas the human and animal figurines are found on the lids of the receptacles or as individual artefacts. These representations of Dian ritual and daily life are unique in the bronze art of China and South-east Asia. The animal-style ornamentation found on the Shizhaishan bronzes may have been inspired by the ...

Article

Alain Thote

[Shou hsien]

County in Anhui Province, China, near the city of Huainan. Many remains of the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 bc) have been found in the area, which throughout the 6th century bc and the beginning of the 5th was the subject of dispute between the principality of Cai (annexed 447 bc), the state of Wu (destr. 473 bc) and the state of Chu, the final victor.

At the county seat, Shou xian, a small walled town near the River Huai, a large quantity of significant bronzes were recovered from a tomb discovered in 1955 and attributed to the Marquis Zhao of Cai, who ruled from 518 to 491 bc. The tomb yielded 486 bronzes, including about 100 ritual vessels and bells (see fig.), as well as objects in jade and bone, fragments of lacquer and ornaments in repoussé with gold leaf. The collection is valuable primarily for its inscriptions, which permit the identification, despite some controversy, of the deceased, the dating of the bronzes and the association of certain examples with the terminology used for them at the time, and the tracing of matrimonial links between the states of Cai and Wu and relations between Cai and Chu....

Article

Bent Nielsen

[T’ang-shan]

Administrative city and district (diqu) in Hebei Province, China. Outside the city of Tangshan a site dating from the Warring States period (403–221 bc) of the Zhou dynasty was excavated in 1950–52. Urn and pit burials were discovered, and near by, stone coffin burials. The pit burials contained a variety of pottery and bronze artefacts, including bronze tools (awls and adzes), weapons such as swords and arrow-heads, coins and various types of vessel. Decorative elements are those characteristic of the period: naturalistic and stylized animals such as dragons (see China, People’s Republic of §VII 3., (ii), (a)), and various geometric designs such as the small square spirals known as leiwen or ‘thunder pattern’. One hu bronze vessel with a lid (h. 352 mm; Beijing, Hist. Mus.) has decoration divided into two bands of six panels by the representation of a double-rope sling. The 12 panels depict a hunting scene in a stylized yet unusually realistic manner (though pictorial hunting scenes as such are characteristic of the period), bearing a superficial resemblance to the cave paintings of Lascaux in southern France. Another unusual vessel is a ...

Article

Wujin  

Bent Nielsen

[ Wu-chin ]

County in the southern part of Jiangsu Province, China, where in 1957 a group of 13 bronze vessels was excavated at Yancheng. They were recovered from a moat of the ancient capital of the state of Yue, which occupied the area of modern Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces in the Spring and Autumn period (722–481 bc) of the Zhou dynasty. The presence of iron tools among the bronzes indicates a date after the 6th century bc.

The vessels (Beijing, Hist. Mus.) are remarkably well preserved and virtually uncorroded, but some are executed in a rather unrefined and careless manner, for example with seams left unpolished. The decorative designs and, occasionally, the shapes of the vessels are typical of southern provincial bronze-casting. The decoration is clearly influenced by the techniques of stamping and impressing frequently employed on pottery vessels. Irregular matting designs characteristic of these bronzes were obtained by using pattern blocks made from a master mould. Typically, the vessels have a broad band of impressed ornamentation around the belly, leaving the remaining surface unadorned. One has a neck in the shape of an ox with large eyes and pointed vertical horns. The surface of the head is decorated with the small, square spirals known as ...

Article

Xiasi  

Colin Mackenzie

[Hsia-ssu]

Chinese necropolis in Xichuan County, Henan Province, consisting of 25 tombs and 5 chariot pits dating from the late 7th century bc to the late 6th. Tomb M2, the largest tomb, has a shaft measuring 9.2×6.5 m in plan, at the bottom of which was a wooden coffin chamber measuring 7.7×4.5 m; the tomb probably belonged to an official of the southern state of Chu, Wei (or Yuan) Zifeng (d 548 bc), and tombs M1 and M3 to his wife and concubine. Tomb M2 yielded the set of seven tripods (ding) cast for a prince and chancellor of Chu, Wangzi Wu (Prince Wu), between 558 and 552 bc (all the Xiasi bronzes are in Zhengzhou, Henan Prov. Mus. and Henan Prov. Cult. Relics Res. Inst.; see China, People’s Republic of §VII 3., (iv) ).

Other bronzes recovered from the tombs include a chime of 26 bells (the Wangsun Gao ...

Article

Xinyang  

Alain Thote

[Hsin-yang]

City and district in southern Henan Province, China. Two large tombs, generally considered to date from the 4th century bc, were found at Changtaiguan, north of the city of Xinyang. Tomb 1 probably belonged to a dignitary of the southern state of Chu .

The two tombs, like those at Changsha in Hunan Province and at Shou xian in Anhui Province, display many features typical of Chu culture and are a testament to its widespread influence. They have wooden, compartmentalized ‘outer coffins’, like the tombs found in the Jiangling region. Although pillaged before they were discovered in 1956, the tombs contained a sizeable number of personal effects in a reasonably well-preserved state, those in Tomb 1 of a higher quality than those in Tomb 2. Notable are a peal of 13 bronze bells; some zither fragments painted with hybrid animals, dragons, hunters with bows and arrows, and musicians; and two wooden lacquered sculptures of guardian animals (h. 1.52 and 1.28 m) with protruding eyes, tongues hanging down on to their chests and heads crowned with antlers. The coffins were lacquered, as were many other items, such as earthenware and wooden objects (more than 200 pieces), the backs of bronze mirrors and carved figures. In addition to the commonly used black and vermilion, gold, silver and other colours were employed for some motifs. A large drum stand, typical of Chu design, is in the form of two birds with long necks, standing back-to-back and perched over two crouching tigers (1.62×1.40 m). Next to a group of bamboo strips, some of which recorded the personal effects in Tomb 1, was a collection of utensils used to shape the bamboo prior to writing....

Article

Alain Thote

[Hsin-cheng]

County and small county town in Henan Province, China. In 1923 approximately 100 stylistically diverse bronzes, ranging in date from the 8th to the 6th century bc, were discovered at Lijialou during the digging of a well. The site is probably the tomb of a prince of the small state of Zheng, who reigned during the first half of the 6th century bc.

The earliest ritual vessels include li tripods, gui vessels and a square fang yan vessel for steaming food (for illustrations of vessel types see China, fig. ). Shapes and decoration, the latter composed of large-scale dragons in low relief with wide, ribbon-like bodies, connect the vessels with those dating from the first part of the Eastern Zhou period (771–256 bc) excavated at Shangcun ling , Henan Province.

Of three series of bells from Xinzheng, one consisting of four bo, one comprising nine yong zhong and one with ten ...

Article

Li Liu

[Chang-chia-p’o]

Site in Shaanxi Province, China, in the area of the Western Zhou (c. 1050–771 bc ) capitals, Feng and Hao, south-west of the city of Xi’an. The Western Zhou remains at Zhangjiapo were excavated in 1956–7, 1967, 1979–81 and 1984. Foundations of 13 semi-subterranean houses, small in size and simple in structure, and more than 500 tombs were uncovered.

The tombs can be divided into three groups: large, medium and small. Grave goods include ceramic, bronze, jade, stone, bone and ivory artefacts. The bronzes are ritual objects, weapons, tools and chariot parts. The jade and stone ornaments are in the forms of various animals, such as fish, birds, cattle, deer, rabbits and cicadas. Important burials include a group of three tombs belonging to the family of a nobleman named Jing Shu. A large tomb, which enclosed a male body, is composed of a rectangular pit with two ramps, one on either side, and is flanked by two smaller tombs, each of which contained a female body. Some 460 fragments of grave goods of 4 major types were unearthed: bronzes, jades, glazed pottery and lacquerware. The bronzes include chariot parts, bells (...

Article

Bent Nielsen

[Chuang-pai ; Chuang-po]

Site on the border of Fufeng County and Qishan County in Shaanxi Province, China. It is one of the main centres of bronze finds from the Zhou period (c. 1050–256 bc ) in Shaanxi; many of the finds bear Shang (c. 1600–c. 1050 bc) motifs or are forms characteristic of the Shang period. In 1976 a storage pit dating from the Western Zhou period (c. 1050–771 bc ) and filled with bronzes was discovered. A total of 103 bronzes, of which 74 were inscribed, had been placed carefully in three layers in the pit. In addition to spoons and bells, 21 different types of vessels, jars, pots, bowls and dishes were represented; all were in a good state of preservation. The bronzes can be divided into groups according to the names and circumstances given in the inscriptions. The 284-character inscription on a pan dish known as the Shi Qiang ...