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18.15 Uhr

The Phenomenon of Archaism among Western Zhou Bronzes

Prof. Dr. Feng Li, Columbia University, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Since the beginning of the new century, quite a few art historians discussed the issue of “archaism” in early Chinese art, particularly bronze objects from the Shang and Eastern Zhou periods. These discussions have accumulated in the position that argues that the novel taste for antiques already excited in China’s antiquity. What has been missing from these studies is an informed analysis of the evidence for “archaism” among the Western Zhou bronzes (1045–771 BC), but this requires the co-operation of the art-historical/archaeological approach and the exercise of good knowledge about bronze inscriptions as well as historical texts. This talk highlights one of such examples of “archaism” focusing on a group of bronzes cast by the family of Zhousheng , a branch of the prominent Shao lineage during the late Western Zhou. Three core pieces from this group have had a long history of transmission through the Republic period, while others were excavated in Fufeng County in 2006. The talk suggests that the archaistic features seen on the Zhousheng bronzes were not only meaningful indications of their caster’s nostalgic thinking, not even purely of his effort to preserve the glorious cultural past, but were connected to the special social status of Zhousheng’s family, being expressions of profound social-political values in a lineage-based society.


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