Creating a Bronze Vessel

The Bronze Age in China began about 2000 B.C. Bronze vessels and weapons survive from China's earliest archaeologically recorded dynasty, the Shang (ca. 1600-ca. 1100 B.C). The Shang were conquered by the Zhou, who founded a dynasty that lasted about 800 years from ca. 1100-256 B.C. They continued the practice of bronze casting although their vessel forms and decorations differ from Shang examples. This vessel was created in the early centuries of their reign during the Western Zhou period (ca. 1100-770 B.C.). This type of ritual vessel with a drum shaped central section and a flaring lip is known as a zun. It was used in both the Shang and Zhou dynasties.

Ancient Chinese bronze casting processes were complicated and scholars are still not clear about the details. This interactive provides a schematic recreation of some techniques that were used.