- The Exhibition OF Mawangdui Han Tombs
- The Exhibition of Shang and Zhou Bronzes Found in Hunan
- - Bronzes from the Shang Dynasty to the Western Zhou Dynasty
- - Bronzes from the Spring and Autumn Period
- The Exhibition of Ceramics from Famous Kilns in Hunan
- Exhibition of Calligraphies in the Ming and Qing Dynasty
- Exhibition of Paintings Created in the Ming and Qing Dynasties
- Exhibition of Ten New Major Archaeological Discoveries in Hunan
Bronzes from the Shang Dynasty to the Western Zhou Dynasty
The earliest bronzes found in the Hunan region so far have come from several Shang Dynasty sites more 3500 years old: Tonggushan of Yueyang City and Zaoshi of Shimen County. In the late Shang Dynasty, superbly-cast and novel-shaped bronze vessels began to appear, forming a bronze culture with the features of the Central Plains and special local characteristics.
Bronze Ding with Human Mask Design from the Shang DynastyHeight: 38.5 cm; Length: 29.8 cm; width: 23.7cmunearthed at Huangcai, Ningxiang Ding is a cooking vessel. This one has two handles on the top of its brim, making it easy for people to carry. The four underlying legs make heating rather easy. The Shang Dynasty left behind many bronze ding. The most attractive part of this ding is the four human face reliefs on its belly. These faces have thick brows and large eyes, high nose ridges and protruding cheekbones, tightly-shut mouths and serious expressions. On each side of each forehead is a zigzagging small horn, and on each side of each cheek an animal paw. This indicates that these are not human faces but rather the images of gods or grotesque spirits. There is the inscription of “da-he” inside its belly. There are legends in Chinese history of Emperor Yu of the Xia Dynasty casting nine ding. After the downfall of the Xia Dynasty, the nine ding became the property of the Shang Dynasty, and after the downfall of the Shang Dynasty, it became the property of the Zhou Dynasty. Ding thus became a symbol of state power. Specifically for individuals, owning a Ding became the symbol of a person’s social status.
Boar-Shaped Bronze Zun from the Shang DynastyHeight: 40cm; Length: 72cmunearthed at Chuanxingshan, Xiangtan in 1981 Zun is a kind of wine vessel. There is an oval opening on the back of the boar with a cover to go with it, and the boar’s belly is hollow inside for putting wine in. Because the animal has two tusks on both sides of its mouth, it is not, from the point of animal evolution, a domesticated pig, but a ferocious wild boar. There are two holes through the front and the rear elbows of the boar. From a practical point of view, this vessel weighs more than 30 kilograms, with a capacity of 13 liters, so it would be rather difficult for one single person to move it when filled. With these two holes, ropes can be threaded through so that people can carry it. The body of the boar is covered with designs of scales, dragons and beast masks. This is the only boar-shaped vessel among existing Shang Dynasty bronzes.
Buffalo-Shaped Bronze Gong from the Shang DynastyHeight:14cm; Length: 19cm unearthed at Baojiataizi, Hengyang in 1977 Gong is a kind of wine vessel. The head and the back of the buffalo serve as the cover, and the neck as the spout. The hollow belly is used to hold wine. From the shape of its head and horns, this is a water buffalo commonly seen in areas south of the Yangtze River. The tiger that stands on the back of the buffalo is both a handy grip and a decoration. The body of the buffalo is covered with designs of phoenix, dragons and beast mask. This gong perfectly incorporates practicality into its shape and demonstrates superb technological design ideas.
Bronze Nao with Elephant and Beast Mask Design from the Shang DynastyOverall height: 71cm; Width of the mouth: 46.5cm; Weight: 67.25 kg unearthed at Shiguzhai, Laoliangcang, Ningxiang. Nao is a kind of percussion instrument. Actual measurement shows it can produce different pitches when struck on its front or its side. Nao is shaped similar to bell which appeared slighter later in time, but the bell has a wooden frame and therefore is a suspended percussion instrument. Seen from the structure of the nao, some can be suspended while others have a cylinder-like stand piece that makes it impossible for them to be suspended. Thus, nao is likely a percussion instrument that has its stand piece placed on the ground or frame and its mouth towards the sky. This nao has the design of a standing elephant in the spot where it is struck. Its main body has thick-lined design of a beast mask, fringed by alternative designs of tigers, fish and nipples. There have been many bronze nao discovered in Hunan, with the heaviest reaching 221.5 kg. This was a musical instrument prevalent in southern China.