Norton Museum of Art. Eternal China: Tales from the Crypt

Through Jul 17, 2011.

Eternal China: Tales from the Crypt features precious objects from the renowned tombs of Ancient China. Although the ancient Chinese had no formal process of mummification, like their Egyptian counterparts, they sought in various ways to preserve the body, such as the use of jade amulets and jade suits.

Paralleling the tombs uncovered in Egypt, the tombs of Chinese rulers and elites were usually filled with astounding arrays of priceless objects and artifacts.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a jia, which was used for heating and holding wine. Dating from the Shang dynasty (1450 – 1100 BCE), the impressive jia in the Norton’s collection is large, sophisticated, and includes a cover, which rarely survives with the original vessel. The piece is related to bronze vessels of the same period that were recovered in 1976 from the tomb of Lady Fu Hao – the only tomb of a member of the Shang dynasty to have remained intact and undisturbed by robbers. A high priestess, military general, and one of the kings many wives, the Lady Fu Hao was buried about 1200 BCE with almost 2,000 objects and 16 sacrificed servants in a tomb approximately 18 feet long, 13 feet wide and 25 feet deep.

Both the tomb and the jia are remains of the so-called Anyang period, which is considered the zenith of China’s Great Bronze Age. The jia is also one of nine Chinese bronzes, mostly from the Shang dynasty, purchased by the museum’s founder, Ralph Hubbard Norton, in 1950. The bronzes, along with early and late jades formed the foundation of the Museum’s impressive Chinese collection, which reflects Norton’s profound interest in Asian art.

Norton Museum of Art
1451 S. Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Ph: 561.832.5196
www.norton.org

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