The National Museum of Chinese History has just issued a collection of bronzeware, miniatures of the ten most famous ancient Chinese bronze collections.
The museum limits each collection to 2,008 sets, and is issuing its 90th set to celebrate its 90th birthday this year.
Among these fine miniatures made according to ancient casting statutes are the simuwu ding, an ancient cooking vessel, four-arm bronze zun, a wine vessel, and bronze jian, a vessel to cool wine in summer.
The earliest original of the ten miniature bronzes was made in the Shang Dynasty (BC16th century—BC 11th century) and the most recent in the Warring States period (BC475—BC221).
The ten miniatures are placed on an ebony frame which is strong enough to hold the bronzeware for over hundreds of years.
Shi Shuqing, a connoisseur of cultural relics, said, "Bronzeware played an extremely important role in the lives and spiritual systems of ancient Chinese. They were regarded as family treasures to be handed down."
Shi said casting skills and the technology of the ancient Chinese stood out worldwide and modern casting technology has made it possible to copy these cultural relics.
Bronzeware was seen as a symbol of social status and wealth in ancient China. Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), scholars have been studying bronzeware, which has generated sphragistics, a new field of study.
Zhang Yanping, an officer with the museum, said globally many companies are copying cultural relics. It is however still an infant industry in China.
Zhang said the collections cost 18,900 yuan (US$2277.1) per set.
(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2002)