Shang Dynasty Pottery History

2098 Words 9 Pages
When looking at artifacts that point to early civilization, not much looks like anything we use today. With our mighty gadgets and volatile computers, it is hard to be terribly impressed by a moon shaped stone tool that is the size of a thumb nail. Moreover, when in context, artifacts like simple stone tools are really very innovative. However, in reality, it is difficult to relate them to our modern technological world, and in turn, it is hard to appreciate them. The one exception to this rule is pottery. Arguably one of the most telling types of artifacts, pottery for the most part, holds its same function today as it did when it was first utilized. The designs and styles have evolved, but at the end of the day, the past impressively looks …show more content…
In fact, the Middle Shang spans from the 15th-13th century B.C., featuring pottery with a yellowish-brown glaze (Shangraw, 383). On the other hand, the Late Shang period spans from the 13th-11th century B.C. and features a more brownish-green glaze. Clearly examining pottery under the umbrella of the long timeline of Shang Dynasty is difficult, as there are many subtle changes over time, not to mention the fact that “ceramic tradition associated with China spans seven millennia” (Shangraw, 382). So, the more information that is unveiled on the topic, the easier it is for archaeologists to better understand ceramic artifacts and collections from China’s long tradition of …show more content…
This particular medium seems to come about around the Middle Shang period as its’ décor is more elaborate. For instance, things like motifs, geometric patterns, and “freely engraved curvilinear designs of zoomorphic characters” were commonly used (Brinker, 40). Consider that within white pottery décor there are six different styles. Henceforth, even narrowing down the topic to the Middle Shang period and specifically looking at white pottery, does not change the fact that there is so much variation and evolution in stylistic elements. Nevertheless, archaeologists are able to conclude that, “these heavy ceramic vessels could not have served any practical purpose. Rather, they were made for ceremonial use and as mortuary furniture” (Brinker, 39). So, one can assume that white pottery came after more innovation and experimentation that took place during the early Shang period. In fact, “the vast majority of pottery recovered on Shang sites is gray ware,” not white pottery. Gray ware is the predecessor of white pottery, as it had a “purely utilitarian function,” unlike white pottery’s further developed “elite context” (Stoltman, 183). Furthermore, white pottery is a great snapshot of how all the elements that came from the Shang Dynasty culminated to create an amazing style towards the end of the

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