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Patterns of Change
---Advanced techniques allowed intricate patterns to be cast into bronzeware creations
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 into vogue.
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 or huis.
Moreover, advances in the production of bronzeware also made it possible to produce vessels with delicate outlines and complicated structures.

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 clouds.

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 and dancing.
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.

Beijing Weekend 2002
 
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