Back in May, we talked about the mystery of a blue monster depicted inside a 1400-year old tomb in the Shaanxi province, in Northwest China. However, this cradle of Chinese civilization boasts a far older historical legacy that goes back to the Bronze Age. The case in point is made by a flurry of magnificently designed bronze-made bowls and food vessels that were found inside a 3100-year old tomb in Baoji City in Shaanxi province. And almost on an antithetical note, these objects were accompanied by a badly decomposed body of an unidentified person.
The tomb in question here named as M4 probably housed the remains of a high-ranking Zhou chieftain or possibly even his spouse – as hypothesized by researchers at the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology. And interestingly enough, M4 is just one of the tombs that have revealed items of such impressive craftsmanship. To that end, according to the archaeologists, there are at least 56 such tombs in the vicinity that had bronze objects (as discovered from 2012 by workers involved in a residential housing project in the proximate area).
In any case, reverting to tomb M4, one of the striking specimens pertains to the four-handled tureen (pictured above). The elegantly-contrived vessel, used for serving soup, is decorated with 192 spikes, and further embellished with engravings of dragons and birds as well as 24 figures of bovine heads. Additionally, two wine vessels shaped in the morphology of deer (pictured below), found inside the same tomb, deftly showcases their complex design patterns. The researchers have commented that given such exquisite levels of craftsmanship, these food bowls were probably used only in rituals, possibly during feasts or funerals.
Now from the historical perspective, the timeframe of these vessels coincided with the ascendancy of the Zhou dynasty (circa 11th century BC), when they were battling and defeating their rivals the Shang dynasty. And interestingly enough, some of the bronze bowls found at the site do reveal inscriptions that name various Shang clans. Simply put, it can be surmised that many of these bronze-made objects were, in fact, war spoils taken from the Shang dynasty. As the archaeologists wrote –
After conquering the Shang dynasty, the Zhou king distributed the plundered war spoils to the military officers with great achievements, and these spoils usually included bronze vessels.
The study was published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics, which was the translated version of the original study published in Chinese in 2016, in the journal Wenwu.
Via: LiveScience / Images Credit: Chinese Cultural Relics