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Chinese Arts - Handicrafts
Bronze and Brass Objects 金屬文物
(except ritual bronze vessels)

Metal served to create very different objects, from adornments to weapons, coins, caskets, or just objects to put on a desk and to look at. The following list contains, in chronological order, metal items that are not in the main part made of silver and gold. In the section "Bronze vessels", we already introduced two vessels from the Qin and the Han dynasty that were not intended to be used for ancestor worship but for daily use.
Bronze adornments in flounder shape, Spring and Autumn The four flounder-shaped objects were just ornaments for a horse' headgear from the Spring and Autumn period 春秋.
Bronze figur of a warrior, Saka Culture, Warring States period A warrior of bronze. His eagle beak shaped tinhat is a proof of the non-Chinese origin of this object from the Warring States period 戰國. It is indeed a relict of the Saka culture of Xinjiang.
Bronze tiger shaped charge symbol, Warring States This kind of tiger-shaped object called hufu 虎符 "tiger symbol" served from the Warring States period on as a document of the owner' enfeoffment or official authority. In old times, bamboo was used for a documentation and then broken or cut in two pieces. One half stayed in the palace's archives, the other was handed to the new baron or general.
Bronze adornment in cow shape, silver inlay, Warring States From the Warring States period on, the art to inlay gold and silver made a great improvement. This sleeping calf or cow has a bronze core and is decorated with silver ornaments.
Coins of different shapes, Warring States The coin shape we know today is the round one with the quadrangular hole in the middle. Buildings and art objects with this shape symbolize earth (quadranguar, the feet) and the heaven (round, the head). Even the word for "round", yuan 圓, is still today similar to the word for "coin" in Chinese (Yuan, abbreviated to 元), Japanese (Yen) and Korean (Wŏn). The two other kinds of coins during the Warring States period were a knife-shaped coin (dao 刀), a type shaped like a cowry shell (bei 貝) and a spade-shaped one (bu 布). See more on the money page.
Being the stand for a screen or a candle, this fabulous animal is a mixture of a rhino and a tiger. It is inlaid with gold and silver.
Bronze mirror, Warring States Inlaid with gold and silver and showing fighting animals, this backside of a bronze mirror is a wonderful work of the late Warring States period.
Bronze coach model with horses and driver, Qin DynastyOnly 104 cm tall, this bronze coach from the Qin Dynasty 秦 is a perfection of early goldsmithry. The main part of the chariot, the horses and the driver are cast of bronze and painted with different colors and worked with many different technics like soldering, inlaying, embossing, chiseling and filing.
Bronze adornment in leopard shape, gold and stone inlays, Han Inlaid with gold and with red stones, two leopards from the Han Dynasty 漢.
Bronze belt buckle with turquois inlays, Han This belt buckle from the Han dynasty is inlaid with turquois stones. The border has the shape of a herd of monkeys.
Bronze container with several layers, Han A storing vessel, standing on a small round platform. This type of vessel called zun 樽 was only in use during Han times, and it is not shure if its only purpose was to contain wine. No dragons or Taotie ornament the surface of the golden box.
Bronze sublimation tool or lamp in the shape of a girl, Han Designing human faces is a new expression of Han Dynasty art. Faces and movements became more real then in older times. Man is now the center of art, not the gods and ancestors or fabulous animals. This 84 cm tall wonderful tool of the Changxin Palace 長信宮 shows a girl holding a lamp or a sublimation tool for alchemist material.
Bronze lamp in the shape of a bull with silver inlays, Han An other wonderul piece of Han Dynasty's lamps has the shape of a bull, inlaid with silver. From the bull's head to the top of the lamp, a handle stretches (46 cm tall). The surface is very smooth. In spite of his weighty body, the piggy tail of the bull make him a bit funny.
Bronze adornment in shape of a horse, Han A small embossed horse from the Han Dynasty.
Bronze horse stamping a flying swallow, Han Cast of bronze, this amazing and very famous artwork shows a galopping horse balancing on a swallow.
Only one piece of a whole cavalry company is this bronze cast warrior of the Han Dynasty.
Bronze brooch or belt buckle in shape of animal, Han This ornament (a belt buckle or a brooch) of the Han Dynasty shows an unidentifiable animal with its head in the bushes. Parts of the object are already stained.
Bronze brooch or belt buckle in shape of ploughing farmer, Han A belt buckle with the shape of shepherds and a cow from the Han Dynasty. Goldened bronze, 15 cm long.
Bronze incense burner in shape of a fabulous mountain, Han An incense burner from the Han Dynasty. It has the shape of mythical mountain, inlaid with gold and silver stripes in the shape of dragons and decorated with many people and beasts (28 cm tall).
Bronze Pusa statue, Eastern Jin This Pusa 菩薩 (Bodhisattva) is one of the first Buddhist art objects found in China. It was made in the Eastern Jin period 東晉.
Bronze figurine of the Buddha, Northern WeiBronze figurine of the Buddha, Northern Wei When Buddhism was introduced into China, it was first the upper class of the former-nomadic Northern Dynasties 北朝 that adopted the foreign religion. During the Northern Wei dynasty, these very handy Buddha images became very popular to put them on a family or house altar.
Bronze figurine of Buddha and disciples, Sui This image from the short-lived Sui Dynasty 隋 shows a whole group like they were carved in the grottoes of Yungang 雲崗 and Longmen 龍門. The center is the sitting Buddha, to his left and his right two disciples. In front of them are two guardians. The whole gold-covered group is standing on a table whose feet have the shape of fierce animals.
Bronze figurine of the Bodhisattva Guanyin, Tang During the Tang Dynasty 唐, fat people were the ideal body type (just like in Europe during the 17th century). Accordingly, this Guanyin 觀音 image also gives her fat cheeks. Looking at the wall paintings in Dunhuang 敦煌, we see that also the floating bands around the body were very popular during the Tang Dynasty.
Bronze mirror with mother-of-pearl inlays, Tang Inlaid with mother-of-pearl, this Tang time mirror back side shows people sitting in a garden, playing lute and drinking wine.
Hairpin, Five Dynasties This hairpin from the Five Dynasties 五代 has the shape of a butterfly with jade wings and very light, almost floating and always moving pendants.
Bronze image of the patriarch Huineng, Northern Song One of the famous men going to India to take the sutras to China and to translate them later into Chinese was the patriarch Huineng 慧能. This Northern Song 北宋 time bronze statue shows him in a meditating position.
Bronze figurine of a Pusa with gloriole, Northern Song This big gloriole around the Pusa-Bodhisattva's head from the Northern Song Dynasty shows Indian and Tibetian influence.
Bronze image of the Guanyin Bodhisattva, Liao The Liao Dynasty 遼 was founded by the nomadic Khitan people. They quickly adopted Chinese culture and religion. A meditating Guanyin image shows how exactly they copied Chinese style art objects.
Bronze image of the Buddha, Yuan Especially during the Yuan time 元, when the Mongols governed China, their trust in Lamaism is reflected in the shape of the Buddha images. They become more crude like the left example or more overloaded with accompanying glorioles and auras.
Bronze image of the Buddha in Tibetian style, Yuan A Tibetian style Manjusri from the Yuan time.
Bronze image of the Guanyin Boddhisattva, Ming Ming time 明 Guanyin statuettes are mostly standing. The Guanyin is a female personification of the Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and thus not only a person meditating and contemplating, but also giving protection and help to the true believer.
Hairpin with enamel, Qing With the shape of flowers and butterflies, this Qing time 清 hairpin is covered with enamel, giving it different colors, mostly blue, a favorite color of emaille technique.
Bronze hand warmer or incense burner from the Imperial Palace, Qing An incense burner or hand warmer from the imperial palace in Peking. The cover is dotted with many holes to let out the incense odor.
Bronze lion flanking the entrance of a building of the Imperial Palace, Qing As a guard of the imperial palace, two lions flank the entrance of the Hall of the Highest Peace in Beijing. They look more like a kind of dog. The female lion is accompanied by its kid, the male one plays with a ball.
Bronze ritual vessels, Qing Until the whole time of the Chinese Empire, the main task for the emperor, more even than to govern, was to worship his ancestors, the heaven and the earth. For this reason, ritual vessels had great importance until the end of the empire in 1911.
Ironing tool, late Qing Containing hot charcoal, the objective of this "bowl" was to serve as an ironing tool. It is not clear why the ironing area of this iron from Anhui is this small.
Lighters of Mongolia, Qing or modern Nomadic people lay great stress on the beauty of daily used articles like the Mongolian lighters on the left, ornamented with silver and inlaid with different stones.
Bronze figurine of a Bodhisattva uniting with a female deity from Mongolia, Qing or modern The Mongols adopted the Lamaist Buddhism from Tibet and established many Lamaist temples in their capital in Peking. Thus, a great part of their art object also shows Lamaist influence like this Qing time Tantra figure with a divine couple in embracement.
Water pipe, Qing This object is a water pipe from the late Qing time in Jiangsu province.

  © 2000 ff · Ulrich Theobald · Mail