Thursday, 18 July 2019

Masters of Ancient China

Back in the 1960s it was believed that the first Chinese products that use glass (in the form of a decorative coating-glaze or material for inlay) belong to the 5th – 3rd centuries BC, i.e. to the period of the Fighting Kingdoms, which ended the era of Zhou (XI – III centuries BC).
 Ancient Сhinese Beads
Ancient Сhinese Beads

It was only thanks to the archaeological findings of the final quarter of the last century that it became clear that lead glass, which later became known as "lyu-li", was smelted at the very beginning of the Chou era. This is evidenced by the findings of small glass products, for example, a pair of milk-white glass beads found near Luoyang (Henan Province) dating from the XI century BC.

Although the preserved early things of glass are single in general, and their attribution is often problematic, the view prevails today that the emergence of Chinese glass production can be considered the result of an independent technological discovery made in the first millennium BC. It is believed that glass production was separated from the well-developed ancient Chinese metallurgy. According to another opinion (expressed, in particular, by the famous Chinese scientist Yang Вo-da), the glass could have been accidentally opened in the process of making ceramics.

Ancient Egyptian Oculate Bead
Ancient Egyptian Oculate Bead

Today there are numerous examples of the use of polychrome glass (light green, red-brown and blue) in the production of ancient Chinese beads, the best of which were made in the period of the Fighting Kingdoms. Basically, these beads are large (about 5 cm in length) and, as a rule, are decorated with unequal in size images of the eye with a pupil located in the center. Chinese "oculate" beads are very similar to their prototypes - the things of Egyptian exports.



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