Emphasis on Visual and Tactile Experiences: Mechanical Treatments of Bronzes and Jades In Ancient China

Kin Sum (Sammy) Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

This article presents fresh evidence and arguments regarding the historical study of sensory experience through a focus on the mechanical treatments of bronzes and jades in ancient China. The techniques employed to polish and engrave hard bronze surfaces before the invention of iron tools that are harder than bronze remain a mystery. The article provides new insights into engraved/chiseled bronze inscriptions, which can be too easily dismissed by connoisseurs as fake. Through a focus on post-processing techniques for cast bronze objects made before 1 b.c.e. in China and exchanges of techniques between bronze producers and jade workers, I argue that some of the traces found on bronze objects that may have been left by working with abrasives such as those used in lapidary industry demonstrate that lapidary techniques and post-processing of cast bronze objects were interrelated. Investigations as to how bronze and jade producers interacted show that they aimed to improve the visual and tactile experiences for their customers or patrons. Active and frequent exchanges of ideas and techniques took place between the bronze and jade production communities. Their emphasis on visual and tactile experiences demonstrates how such industrial powers developed in ancient China and how they were sustained throughout the last two millennia b.c.e.

本文為古代中國青銅與玉石的機械處理的歷史與感官經驗研究提供新證據與論述。鐵工具比青銅硬,但在鐵工具發明之前,如何在青銅表面刻劃與打磨是一個謎。本文也為刻劃或者鑿刻而成的青銅銘文的製造提供新思考,畢竟這些銘文太容易被鑑定專家認為是偽造的,因此這類問題還需要進一步探討。透過研究在公元紀年前中國青銅器的鑄後處理技術,以及青銅與玉石工匠的技法交流,本文論述玉石行業中使用的解玉砂可能也應用在青銅表面的刻鑿過程中,顯示玉石的處理手法與青銅的鑄後處理有緊密關係。青銅與玉石工匠的緊密聯繫反映了他們皆關心其產品提供給使用者的視覺與觸覺體驗。青銅與玉石生產行業有着頻繁又活躍的思想與技藝交流。他們對產品視覺與觸覺的關心與體現揭示了公元前兩千紀內中國產業的發展史。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-43
Number of pages43
JournalEarly China
Volume46
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Philosophy
  • Religious studies
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Literature and Literary Theory

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • abrasive
  • bronze
  • chisel
  • jade
  • 中國
  • 玉石
  • 解玉砂
  • 鑿刻
  • 青銅

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