Online Educational Units in Asian Art

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Resources Organized by Time Period: BCE 4000-1000



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Ancient China: From the Neolithic Period to the Han Dynasty [PDF]
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
"An historical overview of ancient China—from the Neolithic period (approx. 6,000–2000 BCE) to the end of the Han dynasty (220 CE)" This packet explores the rise of ancient Chinese civilization and how belief systems and cultural values are reflected in surviving examples of its material culture. The packet features important archaeological excavations such as the Tomb of Fu Hao, created in the Shang dynasty (approx. 1600–1050 BCE); the Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, created in the Warring States period (approx. 480–221 BCE); and the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE), created approx. 210 BCE. Other highlights include Chinese jades, bronzes, and ceramics in the Asian Art Museum’s collection galleries. The packet includes interactive activities for the classroom and student handouts. See also content and multiple downloads on An Introduction to the Qin Empire (221–206 BCE), An Introduction to the Han Dynasty, and An Introduction to the Shang Dynasty.

Go to Museum Resource: https://education.asianart.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2019/09/Ancient-China...
Ancient Chinese Bronzes
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Chinese civilization made great advances as it emerged from the Neolithic period and entered the Bronze Age. One factor in this change was the ability to locate and extract natural deposits of copper and tin for making bronze. Foundries capable of heating the ores to high enough temperatures for mixing and casting metal were established in northern areas of China around 1700 BCE. One of the largest and most impressive early foundries was at Anyang, the capital of the late Shang dynasty from about 1300 to 1050 BCE.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/learn/ancient-chinese-bronzes/
Ancient Chinese Bronzes
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Students will learn that objects found in tombs can provide information about Chinese civilization, including beliefs about the afterlife, aspects of daily life, social hierarchies, and artistic processes. Students will be able to explain how Chinese bronze vessels were produced, and they will create a sketch of their own bronze design inspired by an ancient Chinese example.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/learn/for-educators/teaching-china-with-the-smithsonian/les...
Ancient Chinese Jades
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Poetically described two thousand years ago in China as the "fairest of stones," jade actually refers to two different minerals, nephrite and jadeite. All of the true jades found at ancient Chinese sites are made of fine-grained nephrite. In its purest state nephrite lacks color; impurities create the variations of yellow, green, brown, and black. See also Jades for Life and Death.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/learn/ancient-chinese-jades/
Ancient Chinese Ritual Bronzes
Harvard Art Museums
Excellent short presentation of 8 slides, with commentary, including a diagram of piece-mold casting and an enlarged image of a taotie or mask-like face from a bronze urn. Part of the museum’s “Hotspots” digital images.

Go to Museum Resource: https://www.harvardartmuseums.org/tour/hotspots/stop/241
Ancient Tombs
University of Washington, Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization
"This unit contains summaries of five archaeological sites, ranging in date from about 2300 BC to 100 BC. The tombs selected for examination were all advanced for their time. Their occupants were members of the ruling class of the period, able to afford the highest standard of material comfort, technical excellence, and artistic embellishment then available." A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization was prepared by University of Washington history professor Patricia Buckley Ebrey. With questions for discussion, timelines, maps, and suggested readings. Select HOME to find link to teachers' guides for all topics featured on the website.

Go to Museum Resource: http://depts.washington.edu/chinaciv/archae/2tommain.htm
Animals in Ancient Chinese Bronzes
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Students will be able to identify, analyze, and interpret the visual imagery of ancient Chinese bronzes.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/learn/for-educators/teaching-china-with-the-smithsonian/les...
The Art and Archeology of Ancient China: A Teacher's Guide [PDF]
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
An illustrated 106-page teacher's guide that can be downloaded in .pdf format, in three parts. Go to middle of HTML page and select Part I, Part II, and Part III to download the guide. Includes historical background from China's Late Neolithic Period (BCE ca. 5000-2000) to the Han Dynasty (BCE 206-220 CE), plus a timeline, vocabulary list, pronunciation guide, four lesson plans, plus featured object studies on 1) Clothing and Personal Adornment (Silk and Jade); 2) Food Preparation and Utensils; 3) Transportation; 4) Ceremonies (Music); 5) Writing (Chinese Characters); 6) Industry (Bronze Casting); 7) Building. Also a special chapter on Ancestor Worship, then and today.

Go to Museum Resource: https://asia.si.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Art-and-Archaeology-of-Ancient-C...
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