By about 2000 BC, people in China learned from the people of West Asia how to make bronze out of copper and tin. People started to make many jars and plaques (flat pieces) out of bronze to give to their gods.
Right from the beginning, these bronze jars were super well made. You might think that Chinese bronze-smiths must have been practicing a long time to make such good bronze pieces, but this is really normal with any new technology. Artists are very interested in the new tech at first and do a very good job. It’s only later that they try to do it cheaper and faster and not as well.
These bronze jars and boxes were cast in molds using the lost-wax technique. Usually they were cast in several different pieces and then soldered (SOD-erd) together with melted bronze or tin.
Some of the jars are plain with just a few lines cut (incised) into them. Other jars and goblets have lots of fancy decoration sticking out all over them. Some are abstract designs, others show plants or animals or mythical monsters like dragons. Some show demons, or human faces.
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.