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Lotus and Crane Rectangular Pots: Spirit of New Era

Apr 22, 2010

Lotus Crane Pot

Name: Lotus and Crane Rectangular Pots | 中文名: 莲鹤铜方壶
Dated to: 770~476 B.C., Spring and Autumn Period | Culture: State of Zheng
Unearthed: 1923 @ Xinzheng, Henan | Current location: Henan Museum / The Palace Museum
Dimension: Height: 126cm; Mouth: 30.5 x 24.9cm; Weight: 64kg

National Treasure — Lotus and Crane Rectangular Pots

This pair of pots are relics unearthed in 1923 at the Great Tomb of King of Zheng State in Xinzheng, Henan Province. Their design and patterns are almost identical to each other. One of them is now at its home province – Henan Museum; the other one is at The Palace Museum in Beijing.

The design and shape are uniquely beautiful and they are the best ones among bronze wares of Spring and Autumn Period. The pot cap is surrounded with hollow lotus petals. A crane stands in the center with its head up and wings flapping. Dragons and Beasts shaped patterns decorate its two handles, body, and foot.

[sources]: 1. oklx.com | 2. 立马逗 | 4. dahe.cn

Crane dancing in lotus pool – Spirit of A New Era

All kinds of decorating accessories around the pots not only result in magnificent artistic visual effects, but also indicate an important change in the aesthetic trends of bronze ware in Spring and Autumn Period. The design of these pots is quite different from those of Shang and West Zhou dynasties. A flapping crane dancing in the center of lotus petals is totally beyond the mysterious dignified atmosphere of West Zhou dynasty or earlier. It is like a fresh breeze.

At the time when the pots were made, the old social system was collapsing and new thoughts were emerging. Reflected on the design art of bronze wares, new concepts were also rising. As Guo Moruo said, Lotus and Crane Rectangular Pots are “symbol of the spirit of the times”, they marked the beginning of a new era in Chinese art history.

Cultural melting pot of Jin and Chu

This pair of pots are also representatives of bronze wares from State of Zheng. As we know from history, Zheng was located between two big states: Jin and Chu. Hardly surviving between the powers, it’s very common that Zheng served Jin in the morning and switched to serve Chu in the evening.

Since middle of Spring and Autumn Period, Jin in the Central Plain and Chu in the South had become geographical cultural centers respectively. This also influenced the design of bronze wares.

As the melting pot of cultures of Jin and Chu, bronze wares made in Zheng combined the elements of both central plain culture and southern Chu culture. Many objects influenced by the romantic style of Chu have a fluent, flying charm. This charm, filled with a movement of vitality, is different from the solemn and dignified Zhou and Shang bronze wares from central plain.

[Forbidden Treasure of China Series]
This is the 17th of 64 culture heritages that the government of China forbids to exhibit abroad. The complete list is here. In Chinese.

[Chinese Keywords]
国家一级文物 禁止出境

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