Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shanghai Museum - 4th Floor (6/4/2011)

Saturday, June 4, 2011
A couple drizzly days in a row! Time for the 4th floor of the Shanghai Museum.
First, the Hall of Ancient Chinese Currencies:
Since the 21st century BCE, cowrie shells and livestock were used as a medium of exchange. Since there was a limit on natural cowries, they began using substitutes beginning in the Shang Dynasty (11th century BCE).
Metal cowries:
These are from the Chu State, Warring States Period (475-221 BCE).
Later metal valued by weight was used, including gold plates used during the Warring States period (475-221 BCE):
Also during this period they began making a bronze spade-shaped coins:
Jin Dynasty (770-376 BCE).
Sword-shaped coins with a round handle:
Warring States Period (475-221 BCE).
Coins developed into the round shape with either a circular or square hole in it. After unification of China (221 BCE), the round coin with the square hole became the standard.
Qin State, Warring States Period (475-221 BCE).
Key-shaped coins:
Xin Dynasty (9-23 CE).
Paper money appeared during the Song Dynasties (960-1279):
These are from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
A gold one-dollar coin in the center:
Early paper money:
One hundred dollars:
A side-exhibit showed coins from the civilizations along the Silk Road:
Ardashir II (379-383).
Kent examines some tiny Yueh Chi coins :

Next, the Hall of Chinese Ming and Qing Furniture:
It appears that furniture as an art form began with the change from kneeling or sitting cross-legged to sitting on a platform or stool.
A typical Chinese study:
Ming (1368-1644) furniture design was known to be simple and elegant. A Ming folding chair with footrest:
A Ming official's hat (-shaped) chair:
Two Ming tables:
You can't see from the picture that the curved supports from the legs actually attach under the table several inches from the edge.
Ming six-post canopy bed with railings:
Miniature furniture and figures from a Ming-era tomb:
Qing (1644-1911) furniture design is the Rococo of Chinese design, with more elaborate carvings and inlaid designs.
Qing inlaid table:
Qing bookshelves and display cabinet:
Even more elaborate:
A story says that this was found in a box in a shipping warehouse, and may have been left behind when Chang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan...
While the imperial family had furniture made from rare woods and had exclusive use of the dragon design, nobles had to do with common wood layered over with wax/lacquer:
The wide chairs are imperial throne chairs:
Qing chair with a book-scroll feature at the head:
Qing official's hat chair (now it's simple!):
Screen made with a variety of materials:
It's difficult to see the waves of the water in this picture.

Next, the Hall of Ancient Chinese Jade:
Chinese once had a vast deposit of jade, but it is now depleted. The art of jade carving once covered other semi-precious stones as well, like agate, crystal and turquoise. But just the effort of carving this very dense stone made it valuable and a status symbol of the upper classes.
Cong (round hole in a squarish vessel):
Liangzhu Culture (31st-22nd century BCE). The exact function of a cong is not known, but they were found in tombs.
Qi (notched axe head): 
Shang Dynasty (16th-11th century BCE). Ceremonial axe.

Ornaments from a funerary face covering:
Falcon catching a swan:
Liao and Jin Dynasties (916-1234).
Grapes and leaves:
Jin Dynasty (1115–1234).
Finally, the Hall of Chinese Ethnic Minorities Arts and Crafts:
China has 56 recognized ethnicities (and many more unrecognized), with Han being the majority. All the rest are considered minorities.
Salmon-leather (yes, salmon skin!) outfit of the Hezhe minority:
Headress of the Mongol minority:
Wool coat and hat of the Uygur minority:
Outfit of the Tibetan minority:
The top two are amazing examples of multi-color batik.
Miao and Bouyei nationalities.
Weaving and embroidery:
Fishing boat of the Gaoshan minority:
Folding bookshelf of the Uygur minority:
Made from a single piece of wood!

Lacquered dinnerware set of the Li minority:

Look at the ear hairs of this one!:
Wooden dragon figurehead:
Miao minority.
We had lunch at a local restaurant for a whopping 56 yuan ($8-9) and we took home leftovers!

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