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This post was edited by Grace222 at 2018-5-14 15:22|
Series "If Treasures Could Talk" of CGTN, showcasing some of China's most valuable ancient treasures. This week, the series would guide us to take a look some bronze sculptures from Sanxingdui in the southwestern Sichuan Province. They tell stories of the Shu culture thousands of years ago.
You have a new message from an ancient treasure.
The faces are clearly human. Yet the features – the elongated eyes, thin lips and high forehead – give them an air of dignity that sets them apart from ordinary people. The perforated ear lobes suggest that they may have worn earrings – a sign of high rank. In all, 57 of these bronze heads have been found. No two of them are the same. Some are round on top, others flat. And some are masks. The rounded heads are all wearing a headband with a decorative tie at the back.
The flat ones have a braid, along with a hat. The hats are simple, except for one, which is decorated with circular designs. The headband is a classic feature of the ancient Shu culture of Sichuan. Four of the heads bear traces of gold, covering the face. On examination, it has been revealed that the gold was hammered into a foil, and then applied to the face using an adhesive made from lime and lacquer.
In what was a Bronze Age civilization, gold was evidently a sign of power and status.
Among all the bronze human heads found at the Sanxingdui site in Sichuan, one stands out. Its features are softer than the others. What is more significant, is that its headwear is missing. The consensus is that it represents a woman. As a more realistic human depiction, it apparently does not have the religious significance ascribed to the other bronze heads.
So, why were these bronze heads made? And why create something that is at the same time so similar to, and so different from us?
These heads belong to a culture, Shu, that is rarely mentioned in historical records. It's tempting to think that these faces are gazing back in time towards their ancient home. Two thousand three hundred years ago, towards the end of the Warring States Period, Shu was conquered by the State of Qin.
The King of Shu had been both secular ruler and religious leader. This large figure represents a king standing in the mortal world, who apparently had the power to communicate with the gods.
Sanxingdui culture emerged at a time when, under the Shang dynasty, bronze was in widespread use on China's central plains – principally in the production of weapons and sacrificial vessels. Burying people alive as human sacrifices, was also commonplace. Yet, at Sanxingdui, the sacrificial pits don't contain any human remains or weapons, suggesting a relatively high level of civilization for the time. This may have been the secret to the greatness of Shu. And it may also have been the reason for its downfall.
What was the secret to the great flourishing of Shu culture, as seen at Sanxingdui? These enigmatic expressions may hint at the answer to that question. Perhaps they are revealing a desire, shared by us today, to understand their place in the universe.