Pinyin English

Decorative Designs in Chinese Art 中国文物的纹饰

Fire Design 火纹
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Spring and Autumn Period 春秋

In the Spring and Autumn Period the ceremonial rites of the Shang and Western Zhou changed as the Zhou clan lost power throughout the period. Some ceremonies reserved for the emperor, including those involving nine ding, were used by other nobles. As powers other than the Zhou clan rose the use of bronze became more widespread. At the same time techniques improved even more. The Rites of Zhou 周礼 recorded different proportions of copper to lead or tin for different types of bronze ware. The highest being 50% copper and 50% lead for use in mirrors. The wax-loss casting process was developed and techniques were standardized. The main advantage of the wax-loss process was high precision. More bronze artifacts for practical use appeared in this period, including household use and weapons.

Cauldron with three legs
春秋早期公元前771〜7世纪上半叶上海博物馆
Li (a Food Vessel) with Three Doves
Early Spring and Autumn Period (771 — Early 7th century BCE), Shanghai Museum

The li , shown in the picture above, is a cooking vessel believed to be for cooking rice porridge and meat. It was used from the early Shang to the Warring States period.

bo / an ancient musical intrument shaped as a bell
春秋早期公元前771〜7世纪上半叶上海博物馆
Bo (a musical intrument) belonging to the Duke of Qin
Early Spring and Autumn Period (771 — Early 7th century BCE), Shanghai Museum

The fu is a covered food vessel possibly imitating a wooden or bamboo vessel.

Fu (a basket used in state ceremonies)
春秋中期公元前7世纪上半叶6世纪上半叶上海博物馆
Fu (a basket used in state ceremonies)
Mid Spring and Autumn Period (Early 7th — Early 6th century BCE), Shanghai Museum

Fu and gui are mentioned in the Confucian classic The Rites of Zhou 周礼, which says, 祭祀 “food is ordinarily offered in a fu or a gui.”

a gong used to halt troops
春秋中期公元前7世纪上半叶6世纪上半叶上海博物馆
Bo You Fu Ling (a Wine Vessel)
Mid Spring and Autumn Period (Early 7th — Early 6th century BCE), Shanghai Museum

Pen is a term that is still in common use today to mean a shallow container for holding water. The ancient variety is shown below.

basin
春秋中期公元前7世纪上半叶6世纪上半叶上海博物馆
Pen (Food Vessel) with Distorted Dragon Design
Mid Spring and Autumn Period (Early 7th — Early 6th century BCE), Shanghai Museum

A zheng is an ancient musical instrument with military use. Zheng of different sizes were sometimes organized into a group to allow for different tones.

a gong used to halt troops
春秋公元前771〜476)上海博物馆
Zheng (a Musical Instrument) with Morphed Animal Mask Design
Spring and Autumn Period (771—476 BCE), Shanghai Museum

Many zun , like the ox-shaped zun below, were made in the shapes of animals. The zun was used to heat wine. There are three holes in the back of the ox. The center leads to a contain that can be removed that was used to hold the wine. The other two holes were used to add hot water to heat the wine. Notice the fine taotie patterns within the dragon patterns in the detail picture. There are tiger and rhinoceros patterns around the neck.

Zun (ancient wine vessel) Zun (Detail)
春秋公元前6世纪上半叶476上海博物馆
Ox-Shaped Zun (Wine Vessel)
Late Spring and Autumn Period (Early 6th century — 476 BCE), Shanghai Museum

Dragon scale design or fish scale design, as shown on the ding below, first appeared in the Shang.

a ding / a large, three-legcauldronnze cauldron
春秋公元前6世纪上半叶476上海博物馆
Ding (Food Vessel) with Interleaved Dragon and Scale Designs
Late Spring and Autumn Period (Early 6th century — 476 BCE), Shanghai Museum

A coiled dragon 蟠龙 is one that is dormant and has not yet flown to the sky. Notice that the dragon in the picture below is coiled around the drum stand. This is the same shape as found coiled around columns in ancient architectural structures.

Bronze Drum Stand
春秋公元前6世纪上半叶476上海博物馆
Drum Stand with Coiled Dragon Open Sculpture
Late Spring and Autumn Period (Early 6th century — 476 BCE), Shanghai Museum

The jian is a large water container. The jian below is 73 cm in diameter and belonged to Fu Chai, king of Wu. It was excavated in Huxian in Henan province. There are two handles and two horned dragons climbing over the rim.

Fu Chai Jian
Jian (a Water Vessel) of Fu Chai, King of Wu
Late Spring and Autumn Period (6th century — 476 BCE), Shanghai Museum
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