Drawing a pitcher - Shang Dynasty Art
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Drawing a Pitcher

Shang bronze pitcher
Late Shang bronze pitcher from Henan,
about 1100 BC, with inscription
(Musee Guimet, Paris)

What if you were a bronze-smith in ancient China? Use colored pencils to draw your own bronze pitcher like these Shang Dynasty ones. How would your pitcher look different from the Shang Dynasty pitchers? Would your pitcher be an abstract design, or would it be in the shape of an animal, or something else? What message would you write on your pitcher?

Make a list of all the limiting factors you can think of - the things every pitcher has to have in order to be a pitcher. Does your pitcher have all of those things? How can you change those things to create something more original or distinctive, while still keeping it a pitcher?

More about Shang Dynasty art

Bibliography and further reading about Shang Dynasty art:

The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, by Jessica Rawson and others (1996). Rawson is a curator at the British Museum, and she uses the collection of the British Museum to illustrate this book. Library Journal calls it "easily the best introductory overview of Chinese art to appear in years".

Art in China (Oxford History of Art Series), by Craig Clunas (1997). Not specifically , but a good introduction to the spirit of Chinese art. Warning: this one is not arranged in chronological order. Instead, it has chapters on sculpture, calligraphy, and so on.

Next period of Chinese art (the Zhou dynasty)
More about China in the Shang Dynasty
Ancient China
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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