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HOME : Chinese Art : Chinese Collection/ HK : Warring States Bronze Bian Hu
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Warring States Bronze Bian Hu - H.671
Origin: China
Circa: 4 th Century AD to 3 rd Century AD
Dimensions: 13" (33.0cm) high x 12.8" (32.5cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Bronze

Additional Information: Honk Kong

Location: UAE
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Whereas before, war was characterized as a civilized contest between aristocratic armies, during the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), war evolved into the chaotic conflict we know it as today. Kings and princes were replaced on the battlefield by infantries lead by military generals. Peasants were recruited to serve on the front lines. Warfare intensified, especially in terms of the duration of campaigns. New arms and armor were invented, including the halberd and crossbow. Chariots rode alongside archers outfitted in iron helmets and body armor. Defensive walls were erected in order to repel invaders. However, despite the turmoil of the times, the arts continued to thrive. Bronze casting was revolutionized by the introduction of the lost-wax technique, while the alterations of kiln structures enabled new firing techniques that resulted in fully developed glazes.

China was perhaps the most civilized culture of the ancient world. Their science, philosophy, art, and technology were all years ahead of most other cultures. One gains an idea of their sophistication and wealth when viewing this stunning bronze Bian Hu. Once, long ago, at ceremonial feasts held by the noble elite, this vessel would have been used to dispense fine wines. Both the beauty and luxury of this work implies that it would have been the possession of the King, or perhaps a close member of his royal entourage. Quite simply, few people but the king could afford such a treasure. By far, the most exquisite feature of this vessel is the stunning, intricate curvilinear designs incised throughout the body. Additionally, the sides contain two Tao Tieh masks depicting stylized dragon heads rendered in strong relief holding loose ring handles in their mouths.

A rare feature of this Bian Hu is the incised mouth, resembling a clove of garlic, and the lid which has been incised with decorative Tao Tieh masks. It is believed that this form was introduced in bronze during this chaotic period in Chinese history known as the Warring States that followed the demise of the Zhou Dynasty and precipitated the formation of the Han. Discovered inside an ancient tomb, this Bian Hu was treasured as much in life as in the afterworld. During this era, the Chinese believed that the afterlife was an extension of our earthly existence. Thus, important people were often enshrined with their treasured possessions as well as works specifically commissioned to be interred. Over the centuries, this work has acquired a fantastic and varied patina that further enhances the beauty and texture of the work. - (H.671)


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