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Jiangchuan Culture

The Cradle of Ancient Yunnan Civilization

Located in Jiangchuan County of Yunnan, Lijiashan Bronze Wares Museum is the first bronze wares museum in China. It mainly collects the bronze wares over 10,000 pieces between the Warring States Period and the Han Dynasty unearthed in the Lijiashan Ancient Graveyard in Jiangchuan. There are tools of agricultural production, utensils for daily life tools, weapons and musical instruments, etc. Among them thousands of historical and cultural exquisite articles including Bronze Ox and Tiger Altar and Cowries Vessel can be rated as “the cultural flower in the south of Yunnan, the rare treasure in the world”.

The Highlights of Bronze Culture

In 1972, the state authority on cultural relics carried out an excavation to Lijiashan.

At Lijiashan Mountain by the Xingyun Lake, some 87 ancient tombs dated back to Spring and Autumn Period or the Western Han Dynasty were excavated. Over 4,000 pieces of bronze, jade, and stone relics of rich content, fine craftsmanship and striking ethnic feature were unearthed, from which the developing phases of the culture of Central Yunnan can be induced and deduced. Such a large number of relics show a striking ethnic feature and the close relationship between Yunnan and Central China. The world famous “Cattle-Tiger Bronze Table” is the representative masterpiece of Lijiashan Bronze Culture, which displays a relatively high level in form, design and cast skill, being one of the national treasures of bronze relics.


Lijiashan Bronze Museum  

Lijiashan Bronze Museum is in Dajie Township of Jiangchuan County. It collects most of the unearthed relics from Lijiashan, including weapons, musical instruments, ceremony devices, production tools, weaving tools, living utensils, ornaments, horse decorations, and other articles. The materials are of copper, iron, gold, silver, jade, stone, wood, and lacquer, of which most are bronze. 
From January to May in 1972, an archaeological team made up of Yunnan Provincial Museum and Jiangchuan Cultural Center made a 60-day excavation and unearthed 27 tombs in total. The No. 21 tomb was revealed to be about 2,500 years old by radiocarbon assessment. About 1,300 burial articles were excavated including the famous Bull-Tiger Bronze Table. 
In May 1991, villagers discovered new tombs and burials in their prospecting for mine and the burials were identified from Bronze Age. A second large excavation was then conducted by Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Yuxi Cultural Relics Administration Center and Jiangchuan Cultural Relics Administration Center from December 1991 to June 1992. Fifty-eight tombs were cleared within 1,100 square meters and 2,066 burials of copper, iron, gold, and jade were discovered. Most of the burials were similar to the ones from the first excavation, but there were still many that first appeared among Dian bronze relics. The excavation was selected as one of the ten greatest discoveries of the year in 1992 and some of the articles were exhibited in Exhibition of China’s Greatest Cultural Relics in Shanghai in 1993. In the spring of 1994, another tomb was excavated as one program of Sino-Japanese Cultural Exchange and about 100 bronze and iron articles were unearthed. 


The Bull and Tiger Bronze Table 

The Bull and Tiger Bronze Table unearthed in 1972 is the representative of Dian bronze relics. The table is made up of one tiger and two cattle. The major body is a standing bull with its hoofs as the table feet. A calf is under the belly of the bull. A tiger is at the hinder hoofs of the bull, biting the tail of the bull. The bull is full of muscles and the tiger shows strength in biting. The combination of dynamic and static images reflects the struggling in the nature as well as the power of Dian king. The table which has unique form and exquisite craft is considered a rare treasure. Another bull-deer shell container is in cylinder shape with three feet that are of squatting human figures with head and hands supporting the body. The container has intaglio patters that are in peacock and human figures. The lid has a bull in the middle and one tiger and three deer on the edge. 
Of all shell containers, the most impressive one is sacrifice container. Its main body is in drum shape with four ears and three feet. Boating and dancing figures are carved around the body. There are 35 human figures on the lid, with some sitting noble women, following servants, planting farmers and business people having deals in the sacrifice spot. There is a hole in the middle of the lid with a copper stick in it.
Yunnan is in the southwest of China. Due to its geographical location, natural environment and transportation restrains, it was cut off from the Central China for a long time. Therefore the people in Yunnan got little influence from the Confucius tradition in the Central China. They worshiped nature and ethnic characteristics. In artistic design and presentation, it was seen with primitive patterns and rich imaginations. Though bronze crafts in Central China was matured in Shang and Zhou dynasties, the forms and patterns of the wares look dull and lifeless. For example, the ancient Ding (cooking vessels), Zun (wine vessels) and chimes that symbolize emperors and authority are large and heavy and appear to be solemn without vitality. As to the material varieties, due to scarcity of copper and tin in Central China, bronze wares are mostly weapons, ceremony devices and court appliances which are used only by aristocratic class not only by ordinary people. In Yunnan, however, the production tools, articles for daily use, weapons, musical instruments and ornaments of all kinds are made of bronze. For instance, the bronze umbrella and bronze pillow that are common in ancient Dian are not seen in Central China. 

Lijiashan Bronze Relics Museums

Lijiashan Bronze Relics Museum started construction in January 1993 and was completed in October 1994. It is the first bronze museum at county level in China. It occupies an area of 2,343 square meters. 
Address: No. 1 West Xingyun Road, Dajie Township, Jiangchuan County, Yuxi
Open: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Admission: 10 yuan
Telephone: 0877 – 8013320

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