Similarities and Differences in the Jia Vessels of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties

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In early China existed three very powerful dynasties, two being the Shang and the Zhou. Despite the Shang existing on the eastern coast of China and the Zhou existing inland, in 1050 BCE the Zhou lead a revolt that crowned Cheng king and led to the demise of the Shang dynasty. Both dynasties upheld a pseudo-feudal society with the king remaining in the capital and his male family members residing in smaller cities to enforce the king’s rule. The rule of the king was closely watched, as he was the person whose rule reflected his Mandate of Heaven. This idea of the importance of remaining in the favor of Heaven as well as the stress on the continuation of the human soul in the afterlife serve as two of the most important aspects in the Shang …show more content…

In contrast, the jia vessel has a significantly more simplified taotie with a thin band lining the top of the body and small, undecorated bands outlining the body of the vessel like a garland. Also, both jia vessels have two knobs at the top and a handle that extends from the top of the neck to the middle of the body. The handle of the Shang jia is thin and simple while the handle of the Zhou is a bit thicker and is carved in the shape of an animal.
The reason for the sharp contrast in the style of taotie decoration between the two vessels can be attributed to the evolution of decoration preferences from the Shang to the Zhou dynasty. During the transition from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty the artistic style of taotie design became more simplified as, with the transfer of power, taotie began its journey towards disintegration. As opposed to the highly decorated and animalistic taotie bands on Shang vessels, taotie bands during the Zhou period are thinner, less decorative, and more geometric. This newly simplified style of decoration also allows for more blank space, emphasized by the comparison between these Shang and Zhou vessels. There was also a rise in bird imagery as depictions of birds developed an association with clans. Therefore, the animal that appears to be carved into the handle of the Zhou jia vessel could resemble this bird.
The shape and functional characteristics of the

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