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Chinese Dynasty Guide

Shang Dynasty

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From This Period

Appliqué Mask
Appliqué in the Form of a T'ao T'ieh Mask

Axe Scepter
Axe Scepter

Fang I (Ritual Wine Vessel)
Fang I (Ritual Wine Vessel)

Dagger: Ko (Dagger Axe)
Dagger: Ko (Dagger Axe)

See more objects from this dynasty


1523 - 1028 B.C.

Pronunciation: "shahng"

Their cast-bronze weapons gave Shang kings military might. Eventually, the same material was cast as vessels bearing the t'ao-t'ie* (monster) mask motif. These objects, often inscribed with the names and titles of clans and rulers, were buried in their owners' tombs. Jade objects increased in religious significance. Woven silk, glazed ceramics, and lacquerware first appeared in the Shang.

*Pronounced: TOW (as in "tower") - TYUH (rhymes with "the")

Video: Shang Dynasty
Curator of Asian art Robert Jacobsen takes us through China's illustrious past by focusing on each of its historical dynasties.

Shang Dynasty Map