Saturday, 7 December 2013

Zhou (BC 1100-256)

Compiled from Collecting Chinese Antiquities in Hong Kong
        In the year 1122 BC, a rebel tribal chieftan from the Zhou tribe defeated the last Shang emperor Ti-hsin Tzu-shou at the famous battle of Muyeh. The Shang army with 70,000 troops was completely routed by the 45,000 strong Zhou forces. The Shang emperor fled to his capitol and burnt himself to death in the Deer Pavilion. After 662 years, the Shang dynasty disappeared.
        Chi Fa established a new capital in modern Sian in 1121 BC. He dropped the title of emperor and became King Wu. In 771 BC, nomads forced the Zhou king to move to the capitol eastwards to Loyang. This ended the western Zhou period and created the Eastern Zhou (BC 770-221).
        Clearly influenced by the Shang culture, Western Zhou pottery can be categorized as utilitarian, architectural, and primitive green ware. This was the first time primitive glazing occurred in pottery, marking a historical moment in pottery technique. This primitive glazing can be found in Yueh pottery. A small number of pottery figurines have been found, but such findings are extremely rare.
        Only with the move to Loyang did a distinctive Eastern Zhou art culture emerge. Following Confucius teachings, Chinese historians refer to the Eastern Zhou period as the Spring and Autumn period. Warfare during this time led to advances in philosophy, commerce and technology. Significant changes occurred in kiln structure that allowed for new firing techniques that provided more even glazing. This also marked the emergence of fully developed green ware.
        The Spring and Autumn period ended in BC 475 with the defeat of the state of Lu by the Ch’u. The Warring States period followed, characterized by intense warfare between seven rival states. The Warring States period continued using the techniques developed in the Spring and Autumn period. Green ware from the Kiangsu and Chekiang region was often elegant in design, with fine greenish-white clay and green glaze with a hint of blue. Besides green ware, typical ceramics had grey painted ware and incised black ware. Ceramics were made to imitate bronze. This kind of ware was produced using intense firing at temperatures over 1,000 degrees Celsius, and incised with a sharp steel knife.   

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