A Bronze Treasure Forged by Romantic Love

A Bronze Treasure Forged by Romantic Love
  • Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, couples often send gifts to each other to express their affection. In this regard, the ancients are no different from modern people, and even worse. In the Shanghai Museum, there is a special bronze exhibit named “Zizhong Jiangpan”. It is not only a toilet tool in the early Spring and Autumn Period, but also a gift from a romantic and considerate husband to his beloved wife.

    One day in the spring of 770 BC, an aristocratic woman named Zhong Jiang in the state of Jin was preparing to eat. Two servants waited for her to wash her hands first. At that time, the “Water Washing Ceremony” was prevalent among the aristocracy. Watching the water pouring into the plate, Zhong Jiang couldn’t help showing a flowery smile, looking very happy and satisfied. It turned out that the bronze plate holding the water was so big that it was custom-made for her by her husband. The three-dimensional small animals cast on the bottom of the plate, such as waterfowl, fish, and frogs, were all carefully crafted and lifelike. That’s not to mention, the wonderful thing is that there are hidden vertical axes placed under them, which can rotate 360 ​​degrees in place under the water flow! Such an exquisite and interesting bronze plate is amazing even today, let alone at that time. It is the treasure of the town hall of the Shanghai Museum – Chunqiu Zizhong Jiang Pan.

    In August 2020, a CT image of Zizhong Jiangpan was published on CCTV media for the first time. Zhou Ya, a researcher at the Shanghai Museum, analyzed that judging from the inscriptions on the inner wall of the plate, it is a token of love. The inscription is divided into six lines, with a total of 32 characters: 隹六月吉/Master Xin Hai/Master Jiang Mo for Zizhong/Pan Kongshuo Qihao/Use to pray for the longevity of the son/Grandson Yongyong is a treasure. That is to say, on the day of Jixinhai in early June, a master (official title) of Jin State made this large and beautiful plate for his wife Zhong Jiang to pray for longevity and hope that future generations can use and treasure it forever. This inscription is a historical material of extremely high academic value.

    Zi, is the wife; Zhong, is the second child, the woman ranks second in her natal family; Jiang, is the woman’s surname. In ancient times, music was always indispensable when entertaining guests or performing sacrificial activities. The doctor in charge of rites and music in Jin State called it “teacher”. Although the master did not leave his name in history, but with deep love for his wife, he carefully crafted this unprecedented bronze ware for her, and carved a true confession that has been passed down for thousands of years.

    The Zizhong ginger plate is 18 cm high, 45 cm in diameter, and weighs 12.4 kg. It has a folded edge, a shallow belly, and a ring foot. There are three tiger-shaped bases under the circle, with big mouths and round eyes. They are turning their heads and looking back, very cute. On the left and right sides of the wall, there are a pair of wide and tall pair of ears, the outer sides of which are decorated with moiré patterns; on the front and back, there is a three-dimensional ceratopsian looking at the inside of the plate, with a curvy body and curly tail, which is charming and naive.

    There are 31 aquarium animals cast in the plate, including water birds, fish, frogs and turtles, of which 20 are in shallow relief and 11 are three-dimensional round sculptures, which are arranged staggered into five circles according to certain rules. The most amazing thing is these small round animals with an average length of only 6.5 centimeters: a male water bird with a crown on its head and flapping its wings in the center; The female water bird raised her head slightly, and two frogs crouched. As soon as the water hits, these elves will spin happily, as if their lives are awakened instantly, and they will also turn the cold bronze plate into a vibrant midsummer lotus pond.

    These delicate animal shapes were obviously cast separately from the disc body, first casting the disc body together with the vertical shaft with the mushroom head, and coating the shaft with an even layer of mud, so as to cast each animal separately. Finally, this layer of mud is removed so that the animals can turn freely. When pouring high-temperature molten copper, how to keep the mud from falling off and deforming (avoiding the adhesion of animals to the vertical shaft) and how to keep the thin center of the disc from leaking are really difficult technical issues. Zizhong Jiangpan perfectly solves these problems and represents the highest craftsmanship level of bronze wares in the Spring and Autumn Period.

    The running water ding-dong, accompanied by the bronze fish and beasts twirling and dancing; the clear waves are sparkling, reflecting the beautiful smiles and beautiful eyes of beautiful women. Hold your son’s hand and grow old together with your son. This lingering love, no matter how many years have passed, still makes people fascinated.

    Zizhong Jiang Pan was unfortunately lost overseas after it was unearthed in the early years. It was later discovered by Ye Zhaofu, chairman of the board of directors of Hong Kong Sun Group Co., Ltd., in an antique shop in Macau, and he bought it with a lot of money and kept it in his collection. On June 11, 1997, Ye Zhaofu donated it to the country. So the national treasure, which has been wandering for many years, returned to the motherland almost at the same time as Hong Kong, and has been safe and stable ever since. Its peerless appearance not only engraved a thousand years of immortal love, but also witnessed the patriotic heart of the sons and daughters of China.

    It is worth mentioning that from the late Western Zhou Dynasty to the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period, “Pan Pan Matching” was popular, so there should be a Zizhong Jiang Yi pan, which is the same as Zizhong Jiang Pan, but unfortunately it has never been seen in this world. According to Ma Chengyuan, the former curator of the Shanghai Museum, Zizhong Jiangyi was in a private collection in New York, USA, and he saw it with his own eyes. We hope that these two Panyi treasures can reunite as soon as possible and continue to write legends.

    Love is like you, cherish others like yourself, what more can a husband ask for, this life is enough. Two thousand seven hundred years have passed, but the love between Master Jin and his wife Zhong Jiang has never gone with the wind. Through the time and space of thousands of years, we will show the affectionate love at that moment in front of our descendants, and will be engraved into eternity together with this son Zhong Jiangpan.

    Xing Jie