Chinese Art: The Bronzes
Chinese Art spans over so many categories and dynasties that it is difficult to narrow down to one specific topic. When one thinks of Chinese art, he or she probably envisions dragons, bamboo, or beautiful women surrounded by flowers but that is not always necessarily the case. The traditional Chinese art encompasses even the most basic objects such as bowls, mirrors, food containers, and religious pieces. This research paper will focus on one specific uncelebrated material used all throughout the dynasties, bronze. “Spanning both the Shang (1523-1028 B.C.) and Chou dynasties (1027-256 B.C.), these ceremonial utensils, often of unsurpassed technical refinement and varied decor, define the very essence of early Chinese art” (Ancient)
Although made in molds, by relatively crude methods, bronze vessels are powerful and varied, the finish is of rare perfection, and although the decoration is intricate, the general effect is of overwhelming strength. Powerful, almost sinister, expressions of the spirit, these objects, both large and small, have an unmistakable unity of style. They testify to a highly disciplined religion and way of life (Swann 35).
The most striking aspect of the bronzes is their decoration. It is a combination of geometric patterns and highly formalized animal forms. Animal hunts formed an important part of the life of the Shang nobility, both for sport and military training, and the animals and man’s power over them could have inspired the Chinese artist as it did the artists of many earlier societies (Swann 37).
Furthermore, the bronzes for religious purposes, the decorations are most likely to be mystical symbols (Swann 37). Ritual bronzes are the sole monuments of ancient China that have survived through time. The Shang worshipped the spirits of their ancestors, of the elements, of rivers and mountains, and this required vessels for offerings of food and liquids. Though practically all the bronze vessels came from...