Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a Lost Civilization

Ancient Sichuan: Treasures from a Lost Civilization

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This extraordinary catalogue accompanies a major traveling exhibition of 128 works of bronze, jade, and clay dating from the thirteenth century B.C. to the second century A.D. The majority of these stunningly sophisticated works of art--among the most unusual and spectacular produced anywhere in the ancient world--all come from a startling archaeological discovery made just fourteen years ago at the previously unknown site of Sanxingdui in Sichuan province. The discovery of this Bronze Age civilization fundamentally changes our understanding of Chinese history.


Representing fifteen hundred years of cultural production, these striking objects are extraordinarily varied, ranging from a monumental standing figure and an almost life-size bronze horse to ritual vessels, masks, and bronze heads of fantastic-looking supernatural beings, finely honed jade knives and ritual blades, and marvelous clay statuettes. Most have never before been seen in the United States. The exhibition and catalogue represent a unique international effort to continue the study of ancient Sichuan.


Under the leadership of Robert Bagley, an international team of scholars contributes eight essays on the archaeological discoveries at Sanxingdui, the art historical importance of these objects, and the new history of ancient China they tell. Contributors are Michèle Pirazzoli-t'Serstevens, Jessica Rawson, Lothar von Falkenhausen, Alain Thote, Jenny F. So, Michael Nylan, and the Seattle Art Museum's Curator of Chinese Art, Jay Xu. In addition to the essays, there are individual entries for each object, nearly all of which have been newly photographed for this publication.


Ancient Sichuan contributes to a revolutionary change in perceptions of ancient Chinese civilization, providing an unprecedented opportunity to explore the art, material culture, and spiritual life of ancient China.