Exhibition: Phoenix Kingdoms – The Last Splendor of China’s Bronze Age (Asian Art Museum of San Francisco)

Date of event:   19/04/2024 − 22/07/2024

Title: Phoenix Kingdoms: The Last Splendor of China’s Bronze Age
Duration: 19 April 2024 to 22 July 2024
Location: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA

Based on recent archaeological discoveries, Phoenix Kingdoms reveals the previously unknown splendor, sophistication, and extravagance of two kingdoms that flourished at the end of China’s Bronze Age. Conquered by the First Emperor in a brutal country-wide unification, the Zeng and Chu states eventually became mere footnotes in the chronicle of the nation’s development, their stories buried beneath 2,000 years of imperial history. Yet as the remarkable artifacts in this exhibition attest, these southern kingdoms were in fact technologically and artistically far more advanced than scholars had assumed before the rise of modern archaeology. Their extraordinary material culture reflects a shamanistic spirituality, including belief in human-animal communication, fascination with river and mountain deities, rituals filled with bell and drum music, and a proliferation of magical phoenix totems. Ubiquitous in the art and design of this region, the phoenix reflects an abiding interest in transcendence and immortality; today, with this exhibition showcasing their forgotten glory, these mysterious kingdoms rise from the ashes to claim their rightful places in the history of Chinese art and culture.

For more information, please visit the website here.

Image: Lidded you wine vessel with beast decoration and flanges, 1000–900 BCE. China; Hubei province. Western Zhou period (approx. 1050–771 BCE). Excavated from E Yangzishan tomb no. 4 at Anju, Suizhou, 2007. Bronze. Suizhou Municipal Museum. Photograph © Suizhou Municipal Museum.