Discover over 3000 years of Chinese history and culture through surviving artefacts, objects and texts.
The Zhou people came from northwest China, and overthrew the Shang dynasty around 1050 BC. They maintained control by bestowing land and local power on those who were loyal to their rule, and by preserving aspects of Shang civilization. The style of Zhou bronzes differed from Shang in the use of heavier forms and bolder decoration.
In addition to ritual vessels, bronze was used for trappings and ornaments for horses, which the Zhou traded on their northern frontiers.
In 771 BC the Zhou territories divided into several independent states. Over the following centuries religious belief diversified, and the philosophies of Confucius and Laozi developed. Regional styles in manufactured goods became more evident and burial goods included painted lacquers and elaborate silks. Bronzes with gold and silver inlays show influences from beyond the Zhou frontiers.