How China became China

By Zhao Xu | China Daily | 2017-10-21 07:52

How China became China

Bronze wine retriever with birdshaped handle (left); gilt bronze elephant and groom. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The people had an eye on heaven and a hand on the present, being masters of art and nation building

Chiming music rings out. Women with willowy waists dance, throwing their arms, enveloped in billowing long sleeves, this way and that. Scent wafts from the holes of a gilt bronze incense burner, perfuming the room, and seemingly hypnotizing every guest. The scene they contemplate is one of abandon, wine being pumped from a bronze wine retriever with a bird-shaped handle, and then copiously poured into jade-stem cups whose intricate cloud pattern must have taken hundreds of hours to make. Steam rises from a bronze hot pot as the sauce it holds begins to boil, ready for dipping of meat.

When night falls, gilt bronze lamps light up, one in the shape of a ram whose back, semi-detachable from the rest of the body, can be inverted to form the oil holder. The gleaming light casts brooding shadows on the faces of the revelers, giving a sculptural feel to this ephemeral scene of carousal.

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