Familiarise yourself with the different forms. Later Chinese bronzes should be regarded as fine artworks in their own right, paying tribute to China’s ancient masterpieces. , A few Shang inscriptions have been found which were brush-written on pottery, stone, jade or bone artifacts, and there are also some bone engravings on non-divination matters written in a complex, highly pictographic style; the structure and style of the bronze inscriptions is consistent with these.. As in the oracle bone script, characters could be written facing left or right, turned 90 degrees, and sometimes even flipped vertically, generally with no change in meaning. Get the best stories from Christies.com in a weekly email, *We will never sell or rent your information. Chinese bronze inscriptions, also commonly referred to as bronze script or bronzeware script, are writing in a variety of Chinese scripts on ritual bronzes such as zhōng bells and dǐng tripodal cauldrons from the Shang dynasty (2nd millennium BC) to the Zhou dynasty (11th–3rd century BC) and even later.  The graphs start to become slightly more uniform in structure, size and arrangement by the time of the third Zhou sovereign, King Kāng, and after the ninth, King Yì, this trend becomes more obvious. They are, like their Shang predecessors in all media, often irregular in shape and size, and the structures and details often vary from one piece of writing to the next, and even within the same piece. A bronze ritual wine vessel, Zun, early Western Zhou dynasty, 11th-10th century BC, 10½ in. Bronzes have been cast in China for about 3,700 years. Furthermore, starting in the Spring and Autumn period, the writing in each region gradually evolved in different directions, such that the script styles in the Warring States of Chu, Qin and the eastern regions, for instance, were strikingly divergent. They were prized possessions for use in life. From the latter part of the Shang dynasty (1600-1100 BC) onwards, some Chinese bronze ritual vessels were marked with inscriptions which can indicate for whom the object was made, when, and for what purpose. For the early Western Zhou to early Warring States period, the bulk of writing which has been unearthed has been in the form of bronze inscriptions. The more ‘classic’ vessels — those most closely associated with archaic Chinese bronzes — were typically produced in the Shang (1600-1100 BC) and Western Zhou (1100-771 BC) dynasties. Images of wild animals predominate in Shang art, in contrast with the art of the ancient Middle East, where agriculture and people are more common. Inscriptions make a vessel more rare, and add to its value.  For instance, and both represent the modern character xū 戌 (the 11th Earthly Branch), while and are both hóu 侯 "marquis". They are surviving symbols of China’s royalty and elite. The main writing medium of the time is believed to have been the writing brush and bamboo or wood books; although they have not survived, the character for such books.
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