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 Cast and Chased

The Influence of Ancient Chinese Bronze on Modern Silver

錘鍊

中國古代青銅器與現代銀器

Curated by Dr Florian Knothe

Edited by Dr Florian Knothe and Wei Qing Jasmin Lin

Website designed by Wei Qing Jasmin Lin

策展人:羅諾德博士

文字編輯:羅諾德博士,連維清

網站設計:連維清

 
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Introduction
 

Cast and Chased forms part of the University Museum’s UMAG_STArts series on science and technology in the arts, which presents the materials and techniques used to create artwork throughout Chinese cultural history. By juxtaposing early Chinese bronzes from the UMAG collection with silverware made by Wai Kee Jewellers Ltd. (est. 1885) for twentieth-century Hong Kong connoisseur Kwan Sai Tak, this exhibition considers the enduring characteristics of fine Chinese metalwork.


Chinese bronzes of the Shang dynasty (c.1600–1046 BCE) and the Zhou dynasty (c.1046–256 BCE) are among the most celebrated domestic and ritual objects in Asian material culture. The quality of the metal alloys and the technical expertise required for casting and chasing are testament to the highly developed manufacturing techniques. Made from tin-copper alloys with varying concentrations of lead, these objects were created in smelting sites located along the Yellow River in Central China. Many of the utilitarian vessels were decorated with cloud designs, taotie, animal masks and other auspicious symbols.


Celebrated today for their enduring beauty, early Chinese bronzes also include practical objects, such as cooking and storage vessels, which offer insight into both the cultures from which they developed, as well as more contemporary objects. Their ornate splendour and utilitarian features have noticeably influenced the fanciful modern sterling silver pieces, while the craftsmanship emphasises the long-practiced technique of casting and chasing. This level of refined detail exemplifies the quality of Chinese metalworking throughout the millennia.

  

 導言
 

《錘鍊鏤鑄》為香港大學美術博物館「藝創啟動」(UMAG_STArts)企劃展覽之一。此企劃旨在從科學與技術角度探討藝術創作,剖析物料和技法如何締造中國文化史上各種藝術瑰寶。展覽透過並置館藏中國早期青銅珍品及一批由惠記珠寶有限公司(創立於1885 年)為二十世紀香港鑑賞家關世德先生定製的銀器,揭示中國文化長河裡恆久不衰的精湛金屬工藝。

 

商周時代(約公元前1600年至前256年)的青銅鑄器,為亞洲物質文化中最享負盛名的日用器及禮器。在材質和技術方面,商周青銅器所採用的優良合金以及精巧的鑄鏤技藝,不僅印證古文明深藏於一器一物間,更彰顯先賢「致廣大而盡精微」的智慧。青銅器原產於中國中部黃河流域的冶煉遺址,以不同鉛含量的銅錫合金製成。當中不少器物均以雲紋、饕餮獸面紋或其他吉祥符號作紋飾。


青銅器歷久彌新的尊貴美態使其至今備受頌揚。除作為禮器外,青銅器亦作煮食或貯藏之用,既讓觀者一睹商周時代的文化風采,也使人聯繫至現今的日常器皿。青銅器的華麗造型及實用性啟發後世創作,尤見於是次展出的現代銀器,箇中工藝突顯鑄造鏨刻技術的悠久歷史。古今器物細膩超卓的造型相互輝映,乃中國綿延數千年的金屬工藝的最佳例證。


 

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I. Casting Bronzes

一、青銅器冶鑄技術

  

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Ancient Chinese bronze vessels like the li were based on traditional ceramic objects, and in some cases served the same domestic and ritual functions. Though the bronze variants were more difficult and expensive to produce, Chinese craftsmen relied on the same set of skills and experience, as the bronzes required similar clay working techniques for creating the ceramic molds. The liquid tin-copper alloy was carefully poured into the piece-molds, from which the cast object was taken after the metal cooled and solidified. This sophisticated process could be replicated to produce several of the same type object from a single mold. The inner surface of the mold in direct contact with the metal determined the shape and surface decoration of the bronze. Where the individual parts of the mold met, the impression would transfer onto the object. This impression was cleaned off when the bronze was chased to emphasise and refine the cast shapes and ornamental designs.

中國古代青銅器(例如鬲)參照傳統陶器製作而成,當中一些式樣具備與陶器相同的禮儀性質及日用功能。相比陶器,冶鑄青銅器雖更為困難和昂貴,然製作鑄銅所需陶範和製陶近似,匠人實際上可將製陶技術和經驗活用至製造鑄銅模範中。匠人謹慎地將液態銅錫合金傾注入陶範,待其冷卻凝固後,即從範中取出。通過此法,同一陶範可重複使用以製作式樣相同的鑄件。而鑄件之形體與表層紋飾取決於外範內壁,即與鑄件外層直接接觸的部分。若鑄型時使用多於一個塊範,塊範間的空隙會形成披縫並殘留在成品表面。匠人鏨刻裝飾銅器時,會清除此等鑄痕,突顯成品形態精緻規整。

Li

Earthenware

Shandong Province, China

Neolithic period, Longshan culture (2400–1900 BCE)

13.3 (H) x 15.3 (W) cm

HKU.C.1955.0153

陶器

中國山東省

新石器時代,龍山文化(公元前2400年至前1900年)

13.3 (高) x 15.3 (闊) 厘米

HKU.C.1955.0153

This tripod vessel is known as a li. It first appeared in the Longshan culture during the Neolithic period (2400–1900 BCE), and was used for cooking or occasionally in burial ceremonies. It was a prototype for similarly shaped bronze vessels in the Shang and Zhou dynasties. 

Ceramic li vessels often were decorated with patterns formed by rope impressions, which increased the heating efficiency of cooking vessels by maximising the available surface area.

此三足器稱為「鬲」。「鬲」首見於新石器時代(公元前2400年至前1900年)的龍山文化,為一種煮食炊具,偶爾亦作陪葬品。此類陶鬲乃商周時代形制相近的青銅器之原型。

 

陶鬲多以拍印繩紋為裝飾。這種裝飾可提升器物表面的受熱面積以強化炊器的加熱功能。

Li with cloud design

Cast and chased bronze 

China, Shang dynasty (c.1600–c.1046 BCE)

16.4 (H) x 13.5 (W) x 13.7 (D) cm

HKU.B.1955.0171

 


雲紋鬲

青銅鏨刻鑄器

中國,商代(約公元前1600年至前1046年)

16.4 (高) x 13.5 (闊) x 13.7 (深) 厘米

HKU.B.1955.0171

Li–shaped vessel

Cast, repoussé-shaped, chased and polished sterling silver

Hong Kong, Wai Kee Jewellers Ltd., 1980s 

Stamped with Wai Kee trademark and collector’s mark

20.7 (H) x 20 (W) cm; 15.8 (diameter of rim) cm

Loan from the Estate of Kwan Sai Tak

鬲形器

純銀錘揲鏨刻鑄器,經拋光處理

香港,惠記珠寶有限公司,1980年代

蓋有惠記商標及藏家印記

20.7 (高) x 20 (闊) 厘米;15.8 (口沿直徑) 厘米 

關世德先生蒐藏

This li is a cooking vessel mounted with two loop handles. It is decorated with a cloud and thunder pattern (yun or yunwen (雲紋) and lei or leiwen (雷紋)) that symbolises life-bringing rain and the abundance it brought to farming communities. This design has occurred in Chinese art since the Neolithic period and was routinely used to decorate Shang dynasty ancestral sacrificial rituals.

此鬲為飪器,上置雙立耳。口沿下飾一周雲雷紋,象徵潤澤萬物的雨水,寓意歲物豐成。中國藝術的雲雷紋最早見於新石器時代,及後亦用於裝飾商代祭祖禮器。

This jardinière or flower pot is shaped in the form of an ancient li, a ritual vessel of the Shang dynasty.

Its bowl is decorated with a chased ornament and supported by mask-headed tapering legs. Positioned atop the three legs are finely sculpted bird heads, an ornamental feature that does not exist on bronze li.



此花盆以古代鬲── 一種商代禮器為原型。器身佈滿鏨刻花紋,袋形腹上飾獸面紋,足部向下收攏。相異於傳統青銅鬲,此器足部正上方均設精緻浮雕鳥首。

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II. Chasing Bronzes

二、青銅刻工藝

  

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Cast bronze objects with detailed surface decorations were often chased. Chasing is a metalworking process in which fine detail is achieved by hammering, sometimes with a chisel, to sink the metal and to define a design by refining its outlines. This ancient technique employs simple tools to achieve a high level of definition without removing any material. Cast animal masks and finely outlined frieze decorations were typically perfected through chasing.


Later thinner bronze vessels, as well as objects made from softer metals, including silver, can also be shaped by repoussage (the French term for ‘pushback’ or, in metalworking practice, ‘push out’). The form of the object is sculpted by hammering from the reverse side to create a design in low relief. Contours achieved in the repoussé technique are subsequently often chased on the front side to add detail and definition. Chasing is sometimes paired with engraving, where the engraving process cuts into the surface of the object and removes metal.

表面帶精細紋飾的青銅鑄器常經鏨刻處理。鏨刻為一種金工裝飾技法──透過錘擊或配合鏨子使金屬表
面產生凹凸不平、深淺有致的鏨痕圖案,可用於修整紋飾細節,進一步完善整體形態。此古老金屬加工技法毋須削除任何金屬,運用簡單工具即能刻畫繁複細節。鑄器活靈活現的獸面紋飾或紋帶常經鏨刻修飾,以求臻於完美。

 

錘揲技法則可應用於較晚期、器壁較薄的青銅器,或採用軟金屬(例如銀)材質的作品。此法充分利用金屬自身的延伸性,從器物內壁反覆錘擊敲打至器體或紋飾成形,成品具淺浮雕效果。經錘揲技法塑形後,匠人隨即從外壁以鏨刻技法添加細節。鏨刻技法不時與雕刻技法交替配合使用,然有別於鏨刻,雕刻技法需削去作品表面金屬以構成花紋。

Gui with taotie, animal masks and cloud design

Cast and chased bronze 

China, Shang dynasty (c.1600–c.1046 BCE)

14.2 (H) x 27.2 (W) x 20.3 (D) cm

HKU.B.1953.0020

 

饕餮獸面雲紋簋

青銅鏨刻鑄器

中國,商代(約公元前1600年至前1046年)

14.2 (高) x 27.2 (闊) x 20.3 (深) 厘米

HKU.B.1953.0020