Treasures from Shanghai

Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades


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ISBN: 9780714124575 Category:

Jessica Rawson


In contrast to the West, where diamonds, gold and silver have usually been highly valued, in China bronzes and jades were chosen early on for the society’s most valued artefacts, and retained this very high status over millennia. Bronze and jades were used in China for ritual and burial, and were thus associated with the sacred worlds of the ancestors and spirits. In later China, these precious relics of the past were collected by rulers and scholars as routes to understanding a distant golden age. These ancient objects, some dating from the neolithic period, set the artistic standard for all time; this is where Chinese art begins. Chinese bronzes, in particular, are one of the world’s major art forms. Few if any other ancient cultures achieved the artistic excellence and technical virtuosity in bronze attained in China. Using a unique casting method involving multiple ceramic section moulds, the Chinese cast vessels, weapons and ornaments of great beauty and elegance. Jade, too, is central to China’s culture. This tough translucent stone has been worked to produce the most prized ornaments and ceremonial implements from the Neolithic period to the present day. The jades featured in this catalogue, carved by some of the groups of ancient inhabitants in the Shanghai area. They include wonderful, decorated ritual jades, cong, bi discs, weapons and ornaments. This catalogue not only celebrates an important collection, but highlights the extraordinary skills of the craftsmen of very early cultures, placing the objects in their historical and archaeological context. Here are exquisite objects made for the ancient Chinese elite and subsequently revered by emperors and collectors alike.

Additional information

Weight 716 g
Dimensions 22 x 27.6 cm
Publisher name The British Museum Press
Publication date 1 May 2009
Number of pages 144
Format Paperback / softback
Contributors Edited by Jessica Rawson
Dimensions 22 x 27.6 cm
Weight 716 g


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