Lihe Fanghu (square
pot with figure of a standing crane on it) is a representative
work of the late Spring and Autumn period, now preserved
in the Henan Museum
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After the Western
Zhou Dynasty was moved to the east to become the Eastern Zhou
Dynasty (770-256 BC), the imperial court of Zhou remained
weak, but its dukes' kingdoms became very strong.
The social conditions are also reflected in the bronzeware
production of that time: less was owned by the imperial court
while subsidiary kingdoms owned much more than in former dynasties.
As a result, bronze vessels of that time have distinctive
styles and features in different regions.
Apparent changes in bronzeware's outlines, decorative patterns
and inscriptions didn't appear until the middle phase of the
spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC).
Some ding (cauldron) with lids started to be noted then.
In addition to bianzhong (serial bells), other bronze musical
instruments were used in ritual ceremonies and grand feasts.
The quantity of bronze weapons also rose sharply in the same
period. The weapons are much sharper than those found in former
dynasties. For example, the arrowheads are usually triangular
cones which have greater penetrating power.
Decorative patterns on bronzeware also began to reveal a trend
in the late Spring and Autumn period. Two kinds of netlike
patterns with finely textured Panli and Panhui patterns came
A li is a kind of dragon which appears in ancient books and
a hui is a small snake which appears in fables. The tow patterns
used at this time are formed of at least two interwined lis
Moreover, advances in the production of bronzeware also made
it possible to produce vessels with delicate outlines and
During the Warring States period (475-221 BC), the decorative
patterns on bronze vessels became more and more brilliant
although their shapes are almost the same as those in the
Spring and Autumn period.
In addition to the Panli and Panhui patterns, other patterns
are detected, including those made up of shells, waves and
At that time, the more precious a bronze work was, the heavier
and mor complicated its production process.
Craftsmen always used an inlay of gold, silver, red copper
and other materials to form scenes of important events in
the lives of aristocrats, such as banqueting, hunting, warfare
Bronzeware tends to be smaller, simpler and has more practical
uses in the late Warring States period.
Besides vessels for sacrificial ceremonies, large numbers
of bronze daily use utensils also date to this period such
as mirrors and waist-belt hooks.
The oldest bronze mirror in China was excavated from a tomb
of about 2000 BC. Bronze mirrors of the Shang and Western
Zhou dynasties have also been found. But they didn't appear
in large numbers until the Warring States period, especially
in South China. Bronze mirrors are ususlly round with geometric
patterns or patterns of animals on the rear.
The waist-belt hooks are always delicately made because they
were a kind of clothing accessory both practical and decorative.
They are always shaped like a pipa or an animal, with patterns
inlaid in gold, silver or jade.
Since wars were frequent among the seven States existing during
the Warring States period, the production of bronze weapons
was still significant.