(XIIe century B.C.)
The Shang dynasty (1750-122 BC) is considered to be the oldest Chinese dynasty. Although there was no central government yet, a coherent expanding culture was emerging. The first Chinese characters from the beginning of the Shang-dynasty were found on ‘oracle bones’. The bronze objects , made during the Shang-dynasty, were not moulded yet with the use of the ‘lost-wax’ method, which became customary later. At the time, a spacious shell was formed, made from clay around the core. Then the open space which was left between the core and the shell was filled with bronze. In 1989, far away from the sphere of power of the Shang dynasty, a large number of bronze ritual artefacts were discovered in Sanxingdui, in the province of Sichuan. They had a unique artistic style, and were named Shu-bronzes. Most of the animal figurines which were found were used as ornamental handles of ritual vessels. The bird was a favourite subject, especially the mythical phoenix (Luan Feng which was a symbol for the wind.