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Boom of bronze age

By Wang Kaihao and Wang Jianfen | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-15 08:05
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"We have found older fragments of bronze vessels elsewhere in China, but the production methods only became systematic in Erlitou. The mold-casting technique led to a boom in the production of bronze ceremonial artifacts, each with intricate designs, which have been inherited by following dynasties," Wang says.

In an interview with China News Service, Shanghai Museum researcher Ma Jinhong once said that while bronze was often the chosen alloy for daily-use tools, weapons and statues in Western civilizations, it was exclusively used to flaunt the social status of its owners in early Chinese civilizations.

"For the social elite, the number and types of bronze ware they possessed matched the echelon they belonged to. It was the foundation of the ancient Chinese code of etiquette," Ma says.

A ceremonial jade artifact, known as yazhang, was another indicator of social status in Erlitou and the culture's wide influence in later periods. One end of this slender, knife-shaped artifact looks like a dragon opening its mouth. Yazhang items in Erlitou style were found across present-day China, as far away as Guangdong and Fujian provinces, and Hong Kong.

"The discoveries far and wide demonstrate how strongly the social system of Erlitou influenced the entire region," Wang says.

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