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Achievements In Technique and Arts
The gorgeous flower of civilization is inseparable from the rich soil of technology. As one of the world’s ancient civilizations, China has a unique tradition and style in bronze arts and technology, and it was the very alloying, casting techniques and characteristics of artistic design that resulted in the unique achievements and charm of China’s bronzes. Many copper extraction, smelting and casting sites have been discovered in Shanxi, belonging to an antique era, expressing mature technologies and exquisite artisanship, exposing a near complete production chain for the bronze industry. Technological achievements in mold casting at the bronze foundries in Houma reach a peak for the Bronze Age and formulate the Jin style, the style of bronze art thus crafted being thought out exquisitely, with unique artisanal expression in images and patterns, bringing in a fashion which would influence generations to come.
Unit 1 From Stone to Bronze
The discovery and use of bronzes in human society is the result of a slow technical progress. At the earliest stages, humans were attracted by the color of minerals to create decorative objects or dyes. After mastering smelting technologies, and especially after bronzes had been put to large-scale use for societal and institutional aims, extraction took on an increasingly large scale, and technology matured day by day. Beginning with the use of natural resources acquired incidentally, humanity gradually investigated the forging of pure copper and the alloying of bronze. A continuing supply of raw materials and stable production of bronze is the material basis for the glory of China’s bronze civilization.
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Unit 2 Techniques in Bronze Casting
Most bronzes of the Chinese Bronze Age are made by casting. There are two main methods of casting bronzes – model-mold casting and burning-model casting; the former was the mainstream and had its own special qualities.
Both casting methods feature models and molds. The burning-model casting method involves the use of meltable materials as models, and a casting method of firing the model to form the vessels. The model-casting method involves turning models on to the mold and casting vessels from molds.
Unit 3 Revolutions at Houma Foundries
Jin production took off again after the move to Xintian. The discovery of the enormous scale Niucunvillage and Baidian Foundries at Houma has uncovered a revolution in technologies of bronze production. Molds unearthed here number in the tens of thousands, their form and patterns essentially covering the entire scope of Jin bronzes for the Eastern Zhou period. More important is the shift to the mold-block method in models and molds, reflecting a totally new design concept and artisanal technology.
The large number of model and mold blocks excavated at the Houma Foundries reflects a major revolution in the tradition of casting by model or mold. Here we see both reverse-mold clay models, but also clay-molds made from reversed models, and also model bloks that can print a pattern on the outer mold. This is an embryonic form of a production line that economizes on both effort and time.
Unit 4 Decorative Arts of Bronzes
A bronze vessel is not complete in a single casting. After forging the shape, it is necessary to undergo additional-casting, sawing and severing parts, boring holes and scraping procedures, removing metal splinters on the vessel surface and the technological traces such as rough edges around the holes, and casting holes, and after polishing and smoothing out the surface, one has a fully done bronze.
As major treasures, finished bronzes could be engraved, gilded, ‘wrapped’ with gold or silver, or covered with gold leaf as means for additional decoration. The Eastern Zhou period was a highpoint the decoration of bronzes. Amongst engraving techniques, turquoise engraving was no longer in fashion, but gold, silver or copper inlay techniques began to take the stage.