Historical Relics and Documents

Historical Relics and Documents



1. A Round Cauldron with an Animal-face Design (The Shang Dynasty)

It is 73 cm in height and 47.5 cm in diameter at the mouth. It was unearthed in Qianzhuang Village of Pinglu County in 1999. Solid-modeled and simple-patterned, the ware makes the oldest large bronze of Shang Dynasty ever found in Shanxi Province. Judging from the traces of soot on its base and the excavation site, the bronze cauldron may have been used as ritual vessel at the ceremony of “worshipping the god of river”.


2. An Owl-shaped You (The Shang Dynasty)

It is 19.7 cm in height, 12 cm in major diameter of the mouth, 8.6 cm in minor diameter of the mouth and 13.4 cm in width. It was unearthed in Erlangpo Village of Shilou County in 1956. The vessel resembles two awe-inspiring owls standing back to back, whose heads with round eyes and hooked beaks form the lid. It is not only a practical utensil, but also an exquisite art object made in the late period of Shang Dynasty.


3. Zhong of Marquis Su of the Jin State (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 25.9 cm in height each and 14.9cm in chime space. They were unearthed in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1992. There are altogether 16 items. 14 were bought from abroad by Shanghai Museum and are housed there. The other two pieces were unearthed in No. 8 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State. On one of the two items housed in Shanxi Museum are engraved seven characters reading “年无疆,子子孙孙”(life is boundless generation after generation); on the other are four characters reading “永宝兹钟”(May the bell be treasured forever). All those inscriptions are chiseled, which are without precedent in the bronzes of Western Zhou Dynasty. The war depicted in the inscription is not recorded in related historical records, thus bearing great importance to the research of the history of Western Zhou Dynasty and the Jin State.


4. A he with a Bird-shaped Lid and Human-shaped Feet (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 34.6 cm in height. It was unearthed in the No. 31 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1992. The owner of the tomb was the wife of Marquis Xian of the Jin State. The vessel is uniquely shaped and peculiarly conceived with two naked-man-like feet, one bird-like lid, a dragon-like spout, an animal-head-shaped handle and a little bear tightly holding the tail of a bird….Intaglio and three-dimensional full relief, geometrizing and simulating – the craftsmanship has merged traditions and innovations into an organic whole, thus exhibiting an extraordinary sculpture technique.


5. A Bird-shaped Zun (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 39 cm in height, 30.5 cm in length and 17.5 cm in width. It was unearthed from No. 114 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1992. The vessel is shaped like a phoenix looking back that is standing with its tail curved downward like an elephant trunk, forming a three-point support with its two legs. Lifelike in shape, uniquely conceived and exquisitely decorated, the vessel is a really rare art treasure. On its lid and its base are engraved the inscription reading “The wine vessel made by the Marquis of the Jin State for worshipping his ancestors”, which clearly shows that the vessel used to be a ritual utensil found at the sacrificial ceremonies in the ancestral temple of the Marquis of the Jin State.


6. A Hu of Marquis Pi of the Jin State (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 68.8 cm in height and 35.2 cm in diameter at the widest part of the belly. It was unearthed from No. 8 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1992. There are two flagons that are basically identical to each other in shape, pattern and inscription. Both are uniquely shaped and beautifully patterned. On the inside of the lid are engraved 26 characters in four lines, reading “Made in the early period of the ninth lunar month by Marquis Pi of the Jin State”.


7. A Cylindrical Vessel with a Standing-bird-shaped Lid-lifter and Human-shaped Feet (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 23.1 cm in height and 9.1 cm in cylindrical diameter. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. The owner of the tomb was the second wife of Marquis Mu of the Jin State. The vessel is peculiarly shaped and none of the hitherto discovered bronzes were made in the same fashion. On the top of the lid there stands a full relief sculpture of a fluttering bird serving as the handle. At the brim of both the lid and the mouth of the vessel there is a pair of tubular ears respectively. The vessel has got a square base, against each side of which stands a foot resembling a naked man with his hair tied up in a bun on the crown of his head and squatting as if he were exerting himself to lift. Two little bells are hung within the base. Its function needs to be further studied.


8. A Funeral Mini-Carriage Engraved with Animals and a Footless Janitor (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 9.1 cm in height, 13.7 cm in length and 11.3 cm in width. It was unearthed in Shangguo Village of Wenxi County. It is a six-wheeled van type carriage. In the front of the carriage close to the left door there stands a footless janitor. On the top there is a removable lid. On all sides of the carriage body are engraved different animals including monkeys, birds and tigers, symbolizing a farm-like place where birds and animals are enclosed and bred for hunting. Peculiarly conceived and exquisitely produced, the carriage has got 15 scrollable parts, which is rare indeed.


9. A Plate Held by a Woman Standing on the Back of a Bronze Ox (The Warring States Period)

It is 14.5 cm in height, 18 cm in length, 14 cm in diameter of the plate and 1.38 km in weight. It was unearthed at the Dividing Range of Changzhi City in 1965. On the back of a divine animal holding its head high and erecting its ears, there stands a woman with her hair hanging down and her hands reaching out to hold a post in her arms. On the top of the post there is a pierced movable plate with poisonous snake patterns. The utensil is remarkable for the ingenuity of its design, the elegance of its style, the resplendency of its patterns and the consummation of its craftsmanship, which fully reflects the superb technology of bronze war manufacture during the Warring States.


10. Hufu’s Wine-warming Zun (The Han Dynasty)

It is 24.5 cm in height and 23.4 cm in diameter at the mouth. It was unearthed in Dachuan Village of Youyu County in 1962. There are altogether two items of similar make. They are both gilded all over. On the surface of the lid, there is a ring in the center and three phoenix–shaped buttons in the periphery. Beneath the base of the vessel stand three bear-shaped feet. On the body of the vessel, there are two layers of relief patterns of about ten different animals including a tiger, goat, camel, cow, monkey and dragon. Merging the uninhibitedness of the northern grassland culture and the gracefulness of the central plain culture, the vessel is a model work of art and technique of Han Dynasty bronzes.

Stone Sculpture
1.     Round Sculpture of A Squatting Tiger (The Han Dynasty)

The 71 centimeters high, and 134 centimeters long carving was found in 1957, in Anyishe Town of Yuncheng City. It is carved with a single rock, which is a common feature in the animal sculptures of Han Dynasty. The tiger is plain and lively. Processing in its huge mouth, sharp teeth and claws has resulted in such a fierce, ferocious and powerful king of beasts.


2.    Stone Carving Column Base (The Northern Wei Dynasty)

The base is 16.5 centimeters high, 32 centimeters broad and its column hole is 7 centimeters in diameter. It is unearthed in Shijiazhai village in Datong city in the year 484 (the eighth year of Taihe) from Sima Jinlong's grave. The support is rectangular at the bottom and round at the top; it has exquisite carvings of dragons flying through mountains. In the many flowering lotus, the column holes are made perfectly.


3. The Gilded Painted Sculpture of Sakyamuni in Sitting Posture (The Northern Qi Dynasty)

At 40 centimeters high, the sculpture was unearthed in Huata, Taiyuan in 1954. The Sakyamuni statue, sitting cross-legged in tranquilly on the symmetrical lotus throne, has a round face and its carved pattern reflects a halo of light above the head. The Buddha and the lotus throne are painted and gilded, with the lap of cassock adducting and the drapery made by way of shanggou, a special painting technique, only reaching down to the surface the throne.


4. The Seven Sakyamuni Statues (The Northern Qi Dynasty)


At 46 centimeters high, the Sakyamuni statues were unearthed in Huata, Taiyuan in 1954. The Buddha, sitting on the lotus throne, is painted in vermilion red and covered by gold foil from head to heel. The boat-like outer covering is pagoda relief and flying Apsaras. The seat throne is engraved with a lotus hand holding a Boshan censer. The back of the Buddha niche is a colored Buddha image. The carvings in all the statue niche is characterized by its precision and superb quality with such magnificent decorations, constituting the finest statues for the Buddha of the Northern Qi in Shanxi.


5. The Sakya Head Sculpture (The Northern Qi Dynasty)


At 33.5 centimeters high, the sculpture was unearthed in Huata, Taiyuan in 1954. The white marble Buddha head, with its screw hair erecting, has a very round and elegant profile. Its seemingly open eyes, straight bridge of the nose, delicate thin lips, and slightly introverted corners of mouth, reveals vividly a graceful and vigorous noble giant character. For its incomparable exquisite techniques, it had been mistaken as a consummation of the Tang Dynasty. It actually is a fine art of the Northern Qi dynasty.


6. The Stone Coffin in White Marble (in part) (The Sui Dynasty)

At 217 centimeters altogether, the stone coffin is 295 centimeters long and 200 centimeters broad. It was unearthed in Wangguo, Taiyuan in 1999, which was found in the Yuhong grave in 592 AD. Yuhong, originally from the State of Yu in Central Asia, came to China in the Northern Qi time; he worked successively for the Northern Qi, Northern Zhou and Sui. The coffin is characterized with a combination of Chinese and Western style, its embossment is exceptionally beautiful. The subjects include feasting, dancing, hunting, living and travelling; they clearly show the influences by Zoroastrianism in Persia, while its images, scenes, appliances and vegetation are the best evidence for its central Asian connection in terms of style and artistic expression. This finding proves to be vitally significant in the research in the ancient Silk Road and the cultural communication between China other foreign countries.


7. Standing Statue of Bodhisattva Covered in Gold Foil (The Tang Dynasty)

At 57 centimeters high, the statue was unearthed in Huata, Taiyuan in 1954. The Bodhisattva stands slightly inclined on a round seat in an "S" shape. The upper chest is exposed, its mellow left shoulder is covered in silk bands, the lower train of the dress is thin and smooth, its figure is graceful, and the lineation so fluently made, even though the golden foil and painting have mostly dropped off.

8. Nivana Tablet (The Tang Dynasty)

At 302 centimeters high, 97 centimeters wide, the tablet was collected in Linyi County in. 1957, and was originally engraved in 591 AD. Revolving around the key subject of Nivana, there are different stories like "Being Brought up in Nandas", "Double Tree Nivana", "Expounding Buddhist Doctrine for Mother", "Prophetic Vision by Way of the Double Feet", "Funeral Procession", "Burning of the Coffin" and "Emergence of Pagoda in Heaven". In the lower part of the tablet are some names of benefactors. The middle part, decorated with embossment, has high artistic value due to its majestic scale, appropriate composition and exquisite carving.


9. The Standing Bodhisattva Statue (The Tang Dynasty)

Standing 112 centimeters high, the statue was collected in Baicheng Village of Taigu County. The black marble statue, despite the partial destruction in its head and arms, is worthy of notice for its exceptional exactness in shaping and framing muscles and bones. Its changing "S" shape seems to be more vivid and beautiful. It has been regarded as the masterpiece of the most developed Tang's Buddhism art for its robust flesh, slightly protruding hip, sleek lines, young vitality and its liveliness.


Shanxi Cultural Relics    Ceramic

1.    A Painted Pottery Pot (The Neolithic Age)

It is 45.8 cm in height, 35.5 cm in diameter at the mouth and 15.5 cm in diameter of the base. It was unearthed in Jinsheng Village of Ruicheng County. Made of terracotta clay, the pot has a large mouth but a smaller flat base with its trim going outward and its belly slanting. On its surface, there are triangular patterns composed of curve and straight lines painted in black, which are ingenious in design and simple in style.


2.    A Painted Coiling-dragon-patterned Plate (The Neolithic Age)

The Painted Coiling-dragon-patterned Plate is a cultural relic from the Neolithic Age. It is 7 cm in height and 36.5 cm in diameter of the mouth. It was unearthed in Taosi Village of Xiangfen County. A red dragon is painted on the interior side of the plate, with its head approaching the trim and its tail coiled in the center. The dragon has a snake-like body covered with scales. Its head is square and its eyes are wide open. Opening its mouth with its tongue stuck out, the dragon has a plump body that gives a feel of steadiness and strength. It looks like a combination of a snake and a crocodile, embodying the features of the two or even more animals all in one. It holds in its mouth a sturdily grown ear of grain that is regarded as a sign of auspiciousness. On the one hand, this pattern reflects the fact that ancients living in Taosi once worshiped the dragon; on the other hand, the plate with this pattern was found in a great tomb of some high-ranking official and thus it could have been used as a sacrificial vessel.


3.    A Three Legged Pot Bellied Urn with a Rope Pattern (The Xia Dynasty)


It is 72 cm in height and the belly is 60 cm in diameter. It was unearthed in Guangshe Village of Taiyuan City in 1956. The urn is made of grey pottery and patterned with rope traces all over. It is also called the “egg-shaped urn”, which could have originated from the combination of the pointed-bottom jar of Yangshao Culture and the egg-shaped urn of the original culture in Hetao Area. The vessel is also a very practical utensil in that it can stand steady, provide good ventilation and functions well in terms of its damp-proof quality.


4.    A Tomb Figure Shaped like a Dancing Mongol (The Northern Qi Dynasty)

25 cm in height, the figure was unearthed in Jiajiazhuang Village of Shouyang County in 1972 and belonged to the Tomb of Shedihuiluo built in the 2nd reigning year of Emperor Wucheng of the Northern Qi Dynasty (562 AD). It is a pottery figure of an old Mongol man wearing a reddish brown boat-shaped Mongol hat, a reddish brown close-fitting gown with a left-side-buttoned front and wide sleeves, a pair of white trousers and a pair of bow-shaped shoes. He has a high nose and deep-set eyes. He wears whiskers and his face is ploughed with wrinkles. He is all smiles as if he were singing and dancing, exhibiting a spirit of unrestrained joy and boldness.


5.    A White Porcelain Pot Patterned with a Human-Head-Decorated Handle (The Tang Dynasty)

It is 31.2 cm in height, 9.8×5 cm in diameter at the mouth, 15 cm in diameter at the belly and 7.7 cm in diameter at the base. It was unearthed in Shizhuangtou Village of Taiyuan City in 1965. The handle and the trim of the mouth, seen as a whole, looks like a lotus leave with a stem decorated with a human head at the joint of the leave and the stem. The pot, a combination of both Chinese porcelain-making technique and the Persia Sassan gold silver ware style, is exotic and beautiful.


6.    A White Porcelain Pierced Incense Burner (The Song Dynasty)

It is 11.6 cm in height, 6.1 cm in diameter at the mouth and 4.4 cm in diameter at the base. It was unearthed in Jinsheng Village of Taiyuan City in 1958. When burning incense inside, wisps of aromatic smoke will come out of those lotus-petal-shaped pierced holes, creating a beautiful sighta as well as serving a practical purpose. The roughcast being of fine quality and the glaze being pure white, the porcelain is a product from the Jiexiu kiln, one of the local kilns in Shanxi.

7.    A White Porcelain Box Painted with Brown Plant & Flower Patterns (The Song Dynasty)

It is 3.2 cm in height and 11.7 cm in diameter of the mouth. It was unearthed in Jinsheng Village of Taiyuan City in 1958. It is a round flat box whose lid meshes with its body. On the lid a circle of brown curly grass is patterned in the periphery while a brown peony flower lies in the center. With the glaze being yellowish white, the box looks simple and elegant. It is one of the products from the Cizhou Kiln.

8.    A Black Glazed Flask with Rust-colored Flowery Patterns (The Jin Dynasty)

It is 28.5 cm in height, 7.5 cm in diameter at the mouth and 16 cm in diameter at the belly. It was unearthed in Xuecun Village of Liulin County in 1983. It is covered with black glaze all over, having a graceful bearing. On its belly are painted rust-colored patterns of grass and leaves, sketchy in design but full in taste. With grass and leaves immersed in the black glaze, the patterns make an integral whole, giving a feeling of tranquility and profundity. This kind of distinctive decoration is typical of black porcelain in Shanxi


9.    Pottery Sculptures of 24 Stories about Filial Piety (The Jin Dynasty)

The sculptures are 10 to 28 cm in height while their stands are between 21 to 28 cm in length and 42 to 43 cm in width. They were unearthed in Macun Village of Jishan County. The 24 stories about filial piety were once widely known during the period of Jin and Yuan Dynasties. Quite similar in design, this set of pottery sculptures includes 24 items. All figures are vivid and lifelike in style, thus making rare art treasures of this ware.


10.    A Yellowish Green Glazed Burner with Coiled Dragon Patterns (The Ming Dynasty)

It is 73 cm in height, 53 cm in diameter at the mouth. It is a cauldron-like burner whose roughcast is made of pottery mixed with sand. It has got a level edge, a straight neck, a bulging belly and a round base. On its shoulder are two rectangular ears stretching outwards at the two sides. Its feet are shaped like hornless dragons’ heads. It is covered with yellowish green glaze all over. Both the edge of the mouth and the two ears are decorated with stringed bead patterns. There are also some S-shaped ornamental patterns symbolizing good luck just below the edge and some curly grass patterns around its neck. The main body is decorated with a dragon frolicking among the peony flowers. The burner features a solid and heavy body, a profound color in glaze and a solemn bearing, thus making a top-grade article of glazed wares


1.    A Jade Eagle (The Shang Dynasty)

It is 10.3 cm in height and 4.3 cm in width. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. The standing full relief eagle looks strong and alert. On its head there is a little dragon biting the projecting part on the eagle’s head and coiling upward its tail as if it were the eagle’s crest. The whole sculpture features refined and smooth lines as well as exquisite patterns.


2.   A Jade Figure ( The Shang Dynasty)

It is 9.7 cm in height. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. The full relief human figure has got a long face, a broad jaw, a large nose, big eyes and thick eyebrows. His hair is tied up on the head in a horn-shaped spiral bun, slanting forward. The figure is standing with his hands clasped, his knees bent and a dragon-shaped article worn at his waist. Beneath his square shoes is trodden a piece of wedge, showing that the jade ware might have been inserted in some other article. Judging from the model and garment of the figure, it would suggest this figure had a connection with witchcraft.


3.    A Jade Owl (The Shang Dynasty)

It is 6.9 cm in height and 3.8 cm in width. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County. The full relief owl looks transparently crystal. On the obverse of its body the wings are approximately square in shape as if it were in the act of swooping on its prey with the wings open. This finely carved creature is a showpiece of the jade wares made in the Shang Dynasty.


4.    Jade Girdle Pendants (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

The largest semi-annular jade pendant is 15.8 cm long. The whole set was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. It consists of 204 pieces in total and comes in various jade wares, including semi-annular jade pendant, top gems, jade tubes, stone beads and agate tubes. When extended in full, the set stretches as long as 2 meters. The patterns on the pendants are mostly carved using a double-line technique with excellent craftsmanship. At the bottom there are two jade wild geese holding their heads high with their wings open in a vivid and lively fashion.


5.   A Jade Sheep (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 2.5 cm in height and 5 cm in length. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. The sheep is made of greenish white jade in full relief. It takes on a crouching posture with its head turned looking back and its horns coiling inward. It is simple and vivid in design. On its head, back and tail can be seen some raised ridges, which are of strong decorative effect and liberally sketchy style.


6.    A Jade Deer (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 8.3 cm in height and 5.9 cm in width. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. With round eyes and big ears, the deer is holding its head high on the alert as if accumulating strength for a quick getaway. Its chest is straight, its back arched, as if it was unsure whether to advance or flee. The whole carving is sketchy in somewhat exaggerative fashion but highly expressive in design, highlighting the bearing and the characteristic traits of the deer.

7.    A Jade Mantis (The Western Zhou Dynasty)

It is 7 cm in length. It was unearthed in the No. 63 Tomb of the Marquis Graveyard of the Jin State in Beizhao Village of Quwo County in 1993. It is made of white jade. It shows two mantises with a big one on top touching a small one below. Some interpret it as a mother and a child showing deep maternal love. But more people think it as a couple bidding farewell to each other: the female one is long and graceful with a plump belly and a wide tail while the male one looks much shorter and pitiful with its back arching as if it were struggling on the verge of death. The whole carving is interesting and lifelike in design.