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HOME : Chinese Art : Han Bronze Vessels : Han Bronze Bowl and Spoon
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Han Bronze Bowl and Spoon - H.864
Origin: China
Circa: 206 BC to 220 AD
Dimensions: 3" (7.6cm) high x 6.25" (15.9cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Bronze

Location: United States
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Under the wise rulers of the Han Dynasty, science and technology made remarkable strides; paper, the compass, and the seismograph were invented; and steel was manufactured. The empire expanded into southern China, northern Vietnam and parts of Korea, and forged trade routes through Central Asia to India and Persia. Confucianism was reinterpreted and adopted as the official state ideology, and a national university was established for the training of Confucian officials. The political unity of the Qin was preserved, but sanctioned by Confucianism so that Chinese of today still look back on this epoch with pride and call themselves "men of Han." Diversity developed within the culture: native and foreign, Confucian and Taoist, courtly and popular.

A gorgeous green patina encrusted to the surface of the bronze attests to the age of this vessel. The elegant shape of the body reveals the metalwork mastery of Han smiths. The flaring lip of the vessel and the two circular handles complement the forms of the oval body. This bowl may have been used for ritual offering in ancestor worship ceremonies. Perhaps, it functioned secularly for dispensing sauces or rice at Imperial banquets. A little bronze spoon is included, and surely would have used to politely serve the sauce or rice that once filled the bowl. Interestingly, spoons in China still retail the same general shape as this example. Considering the rarity and value of bronze during the Han era, this vessel was clearly a prized possession reserved for the Imperial elite or their close intimates. This ancient treasure has only become more splendid and more precious with age.
- (H.864)


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