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China Daily Website

Cradle of Chinese civilization

Updated: 2012-11-08 10:59
By Dong Jirong (China Daily)

Right lowerhand: Hu Gui

Hu Gui, food vessel, late Western Zhou Dynasty, unearthed at Qicun, Fufeng, Shaanxi, height 59 cm.

Made by order of Hu, otherwise known as King Li of the Zhou Dynasty, Hu Gui was an important ritual vessel at ancestor worship.

Dressing and music

The use of ritual vessels is unarguably a major part of Li. However,it’s far from the whole picture. The system of Li is nearly all-inclusive in people’s life. Dressing, music, and even archery were all ritualized.

The most amazing of all might be the complicated system of music for ritual occasions, which gave formal ceremonial expression to social hierarchy. There were also rigid rules concerning the size and formation of the band depending on the nature of the ritual ceremonies and the status of the host.

Cradle of Chinese civilization

Clad in robes, the two bronze figures are performers at rituals.

A complicated system of dressing codes was set up in the Western Zhou. Wearing upper dress and skirts was the symbol of aristocrats, while the middle and lower class more robes. Music and dance were performed on ritual occasions.

Cradle of Chinese civilization

A set of chime bells exclusively used by the Western Zhou nobles.

Chime bells were the musical instruments exclusively used by the Zhou nobles. They comprised a set of bells arranged in order of size. In the early period of the Western Zhou Dynasty, a complete set included just three bells. Later on, the number increased to more than 10.

Cradle of Chinese civilization

Archery, an important skill at battlefields, was ritualized in the Western Zhou.

The Zhou rules contended that the formal ceremony, with strict rules on the procedures and the use of bows and arrows, was capable of identifying talented archers.

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