AGE: – Shang Dynasty 1600 BC – 1046 BC
CONSTRUCTION: – Terracotta
DESCRIPTION: – Chinese Shang Dynasty Terracotta Stem Cup
HEIGHT: – 18cm
TOP DIAMETER:– 11.5cm
BASE DIAMETER: – 9cm
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Chinese Shang Dynasty Terracotta Stem Cup with bird motif on the lid, more than likely made for burial purposes between 1600 BC and 1046 BC. The people of the Shang period were highly skilled in crafting jade sculptures, decorative bronze vessels, bronze weapons, ceremonial cups , terracotta objects and objects such is this stem cup with a stone like appearance.
The people of this period believed in more than one god and referred to them as Shangdi, meaning supreme deity, the god of the universe and the heavens, ruling over the sun, the moon, the wind and the rain. They believed in life after death and ancestor worship, believing that their ancestors although living in heaven were still involved in the affairs of those living on earth. Human sacrifice was also popular during the Shang period, among both the both the poor and the noble class.
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The Shang Dynasty was also the first Chinese Dynasty to keep written records leaving behind evidence of their existence. They used pictures and symbols to represent different things. It was during this period that the famous oracle bones made from tortoise shells or ox bones used to foretell the future became popular.
The oracle bones were referred to for a variety of predictions, such as when to plant or when to harvest, if there was going to be a son or daughter born into the family, even to predict the best time to go into battle. It is these oracle bones that give light to the rich culture and traditions of the Shang culture and others to follow.
The Shang calendar was lunar until a man known as Wan-Nien measured time over a one year time span. He did this by measuring shadows throughout the day using a water clock and sun dial, these experiments resulted in the solar calendar and the three hundred and sixty five day year.
This calendar was referred to as the Wan-lien-li or perpetual calendar. This new calendar gave farmers a better understanding of the right times to plant and harvest. To read more about the Shang culture we found these articles excellent.