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April 18, 2010

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Red copper highlights in bronze container

THE dou was a kind of food container used by ancient Chinese people to store pickled vegetables and meat. The pottery dou was invented in the Neolithic Age and bronze dous began to be used during the Xia (c. 21st century-16th century BC) and Shang (16th century-11th century BC) dynasties when bronze-making was well developed.

Innovative ways of bronze-making emerged after the Shang Dynasty and more advanced techniques were developed. Ancient craftsmen inlaid gold, silver, gilt silver and turquoise in bronze vessels to make them more appealing.

In the Shanghai Museum, a bronze dou made in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) distinguishes itself among all those on display for its delicate and distinct inlayed patterns.

The dou looks like a big bronze goblet with a top on it. Red copper is liberally inlaid on the surface and the vessel depicts various hunting scenes. For example, some beasts have been pierced by arrows, while a hunter holding a bow is chasing animals as others scurry and jump around him.

The shape of the vessel is round and simple, but the scenes look vivid and lively, reflecting the true hunting circumstances of ancient times.

The depiction is markedly different to previous eras with symbolized patterns that were pioneering in the history of artistic development.

The technique of inlayed copper is a distinctive feature of bronze vessels made during the Spring and Autumn Period, and the dou in the museum is a masterpiece of that time.


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