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Styles of Bronzes

Bronze styles of Western Zhou can be divided into three stages. Early productions continued the stern and fearsome characteristics of Shang bronzes. By the middle stage, the Zhou had developed their own styles in designs and patterns, emphasizing a wavy, flowing visual effect. The late stage was marked by a return to modest lines and balanced geometrical designs.


    Western Zhou bronzes were all produced using piece-mold casting, by pouring the molten copper-tin alloy between a clay core and an outer mold. Once cooled, the finished piece was released from the mold. The creation of patterns on the clay mold was usually performed by sketching an outline upon the clay, and then forming the pattern through incision or molding, creating a relief effect.


    During the early Western Zhou, the style of bronzes continued the tradition of the late Shang, with straight and stern, slightly top-heavy designs, creating an effect of strength and stability. Patterns mostly feature animal faces and dragons in high relief or bas-relief. Together with flanges projecting from the sides, this produces a stern and fearsome visual effect.


    By the middle Western Zhou, the unique Zhou characteristics of bronzes had reached maturity, with broader, shorter designs as compared with early bronzes. The overall visual effect was that of elegance and exquisitely curved outlines. Animal faces were replaced by symmetrical phoenix patterns, with long, curving lines forming a rich and flowing style.


    The late Western Zhou saw a loss of curvature in bronze designs, eliciting a modest visual effect. Patterns evolved into geometrical shapes with no visible themes, using long, level lines to establish a simple artistic elegance.

 Bronze you wine vessel of Bo Ge
(New window)  Bronze you wine vessel of Feng
(New window)  Bronze li tripod of Bo Xian Fu
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