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).
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.
Paper money appeared during the Song Dynasties (960-1279):
A gold one-dollar coin in the center:
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 six-post canopy bed with railings:
Qing inlaid table:
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:
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):
Ornaments from a funerary face covering:
Grapes and leaves:
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:
Miao and Bouyei nationalities.
Weaving and embroidery:
Lacquered dinnerware set of the Li minority:
We had lunch at a local restaurant for a whopping 56 yuan ($8-9) and we took home leftovers!