Chinese Middle Spring and Autumn Period Bronze Ding Vessel
The Ding Vessel's abdomen is ornamented with S-shaped bird design, and its feet are animal-shaped. In late Western Zhou dynasty, dings have evolved into a symbol of status and stratum for vassals and scholar-bureaucrats. The number of dings depends on their statuses.
After Western Zhou Dynasty, Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period have been another boom for bronze casting, and it can be divided into three periods: the early Spring and Autumn Period, the middle and late Spring and Autumn Period as well as the middle and late Warring States Period. In the early Spring and Autumn Period, the shape and combination of the bronze wares have been almost same as those in the late Western Zhou dynasty, so are the pattern. The representative wares of this stage are the bronze dowries of the Ji State unearthed in the South Port of Huang County in Shandong Province, the bronze wares of the Guo State unearthed in Shangcun Ling of Sanmen Xia in Henan Province, the bronze wares of the Zeng State unearthed in Sujialong of Jingshan County in Hubei Province, the bronze wares of the Ji State unearthed in Shangkuang Village of Yantai City in Shandong Province, the bronze dowries of the Lu State unearthed in Baicaogou Town of Licheng District in Shandong Province and the bronze wares of the Lu State unearthed in Xiongjialaowan of Sui County in Hubei Province etc.
After the middle Spring and Autumn Period, the bronze wares are symbolized with coiled serpent design, and the bronze wares such as the pottery moulds (unearthed in Houma City in Shanxin Province) and the Jingong Pot (recorded in the Old Record of Bronze Wares) all get fine coiled serpent design on the surface. From the late Spring and Autumn Period to the early Warring States Period, the design of the bronze wares has developed into embossment, and the complicated hollow-carved design has reached to the peak of bronze wares' workmanship. The representative wares are those bronze assemblages unearthed in different places and tombs, such as Xinzheng City in Henan, Liyu Village of Hunyuan County in Shanxi Province, Caihou Tomb of Shou County in Anhui Province, Shanbiaozhen tombs and Liulige tombs in Huixian City, Xichuan County and Changzhi City Watershed tombs in Henan Province and Leigu Mound of Sui County. During the middle and late Warring States Period, many bronzes are made without design on the surface, and the number of bronzes used for horse and carriage increases greatly. The representative bronzes are bronzes of the Chu State unearthed in Changsha City and Shou County, and bronzes of the Wei State unearthed in Houchuan in Shan County etc.
The main features of the bronze wares in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period are:
1. Emergence of vast bronzes of various states. In Western Zhou, the bronzes with inscription are mostly produced under the order of the Zhou royal court and the officials while few are made in vassal states. However, during the Spring and Autumn Period, the ritual vessels produced by the Zhou royal court and the officials have been almost disappeared, and instead, the bronzes casted under the order of the vassals, scholar-bureaucrats and even retainers of those scholar-bureaucrats largely increase, which is consistent with the situation at that time, namely, the royal court is on the wane while the influence of the vassals, scholar-bureaucrats and retainers is continuously enhancing.
2. The formation of the regional features. At that time, the situation presents a tripartite confrontation which consists of the Central Plain centered with Sanjin States (i.e. The Zhao State, the Han State and the Wei State), the west area centered with the Qin State and the south area centered with the Chu State. Besides, some minority nationality regions in the north area, the southwest area and the southeast area also respectively possess their own unique features.
3. Increasing exchanges among the regions. For example, the fine thread cloud and thunder design popular in Wu-Yue area sometimes can be discovered in the Chu State, and the belt hooks used in the south area are also introduced to the south area. This situation has reflects the historical trend that the various states have gradually been united during the East Zhou Period from the perspective of material culture.
4. Great improvement in casting technology. The improvement in workmanship is mainly embodied in the highly developed mud-made mould casting method, the application of lost wax method, mould-making by stamping method, popularity of the inlay workmanship and the surface processing technics of the arms. The mine site seated in Tonglv Mountain of Daye County in Hubei Province embodies the enormous scale of the bronze metallurgy industry in the East Zhou Period, and reflects the increased productivity in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period.