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Home >> Focus on Yunnan >> Yunnan Bronze Masterpieces

Yunnan Bronze Masterpieces
A Local "History Book"

Where bronze ware was first unearthed from the Shang-dynasty tomb of Fuhao in Henan Province, scholars conducted studies and discovered that ores used to produce part of the bronze ware were not from the Central Plains of China but from Yunnan.

The Yunnan bronzes are unique because the ancient Yunnan people did not have any written language then. Therefor, they used sculpture and carved patterns to show their life and religious beliefs. In some ways, the bronze objects, including these articles daily use, can be considered a "history book" of Yunnan.

The ancient kingdom of Dian had a territory centred around the Dianchi Lake and stretching out to the central and eastern parts of today's Yunnan. It existed from the 5th century B.C. to early 1st century.

In 1955 and 1960, scholars from the Yunnan provincial Museum made excavations on four occasions at Shizhaishan near Jinning. From 50 ancient tombs, they obtained more than 4,800 cultural relics, the overwhelming majority of which were bronzes. In 1972 and 1991, the Yunnan provincial Museum and the Yunnan provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology twice made excavations at Lijiashan in Jiangchuan County. Here, 85 ancient tombs were found and 4,000 bronze objects unearthed. Over 1,000 pieces of bronze ware have been discovered from over 20 burial grounds of the Dian State. The people had mastered such complicated bronze processing techniques as gilding and inlay with gold or silver.For instance, the Escorting Captives Gilded Decorative Buckle depicts two armed soldiers escorting two captives and three animals.In the Bronze Board of Bull and Tiger, the blood vessels on the bull's head are clearly portrayed to produce a sence of strength, while the tiger, biting at its tail, is also shown in great detail.

On the lid of the Battle Scene Shell Utensil used for storing shell money, unearthed at Shizhaishan, is cast a scene of battle with 13 human figures, each vividly depicted. On each side of the Cavelryman Herding Oxen Shell Utensil is a tiger-shaped handle. On the lid is a gilded barefoot cavalryman armed with a sword to protect the four oxen. Another masterpiece is the Umbrella-holding Bronze Figurine whose facial expression, haiestyle and costumes are all clearly portrayed.

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25 Minorities
Folk Dances in Yunnan
Yunnan 18 peculiars
Dai Ethnic Group
Folk dances of the Dai People
Yunnan Bronze Masterpieces
The Nujiang River Valley
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The Famous Pu'er Tea
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