Years Period China World
5,000-2,000 BCE Neolithic Beginning of agriculture: painted pottery

Yanshao (Painted Pottery) Culture 5000-4000

Banpo 4000

Banshan 2200

Longshan (Black Pottery)
Culture 2500-2000

Catal Huyuk
Lyre of Puabi
Pyramids in Egypt
Pictographs and invention of Cuneiform
Sargon of Akkad
Stele of Naram-Sin
Tell Asmar
c1700-221 BCE Bronze Age
Warring States Period
Shang dynasty; 
Chou (Zhou) dynasty
Shang 1700-1100 BCE
Zhou 1100-221 BCE dynasties; 
  • development of writing
  • bronze casting
  • Confucius c551-479 (Analects)
  • Developed philosophies leading to Taoism
  • Chuang Tzu (Chuang Chou) Butterfly
  • Lao Tzu (Codified Writings)
  • Iron Tools
Code of Hammurabi
Olmec in America
Golden Age of Perikles
Rome Begins
c221- 206 BCE Qin  (Chin) dynasty
  • Unification 
  • Centralized Bureaucracy
  • standardized money, written language, 
  • clay figures, 
  • Great Wall
  • Legalism introduced
  • Shan Yang c360 "Man is by nature evil"
  • Han Feizi c233 codified the system
Rome Begins
206 BCE-220CE  Han dynasty
  • Silk Road 
  • Daoism
  • Confuciunism made state philosophy
  • Buddhism Introduced
Rise of Christianity
220 - 579 CE Six Dynasties
North, East and West Wei, 
Nomad Invasions,
Buddhism Grows
Rock Cut Caves
Monumental Buddhas
Birth of Muhammad
Edict of Milan
Hagia Sofia
Separation of Churches
568 - 617 CE Sui Reunification of China
618-907 Tang dynasty Repression of Buddhism
960-1279 CE Song (Sung) dynasty Neo Confucianism
Landscape Painting Develops
Oracle Bones c14th to 12th C BCE

(Left to right)
  • Zhi - to stop. A picture of two feet, one behind the other. The second foot is placed at a right angle indicating that the person has stopped. Compare with the next symbol showing a walking person.
  • Bu - to walk. Two feet in succession indicating a person walking forward.
  • Xiang - elephant.
  • Hu - tiger.
  • Shi - house. A house with a pointed roof and foundation.

    Banpo Jar c 2200-1800

    With the character TIEN for "field."

    A symbol that contains a cross within a square, inside a swastika

    "field" tien or tian

    field work
    an investigation carried out in the field 
    rather than in a laboratory or headquarters

    field work
    pronunciation: tien yieh diao char

    left 2 characters: wild field

    right 2 characters: investigation

    Tao Tie Mask on a Neolithic Chinese Jade
    circa 1766-1122  BCE Aproximately 3"x3"

    ‘He who is not of my own clan must be an enemy at heart.’


    Both of these images are designed to have some kind of magical or religious power.  How does the fact that these two images are very diagramatic in nature helps this?



    Ding, taotie masks on 4 sides, bronze, Anyang,
    China, Shang Dynasty,
    Fu Hao's tomb, ca. 1200 BCE
    t'ao-t'ieh (taotie)

    Kui dragon  A creature seen in the decoration of Chinese bronzes from the Shang dynasty, which became a popular motif on archaistic wares in a variety of media. The dragon, which has a turned-up snout, is always shown in profile with only one leg visible.

    Leiwen  Literal translation: "thunder pattern". A pattern made up of juxtaposed squared spirals.


    Chilkat blanket, mountain goat wool, cedar bark and sinew thread 51 x 64 (129.5 x 162.6 cm) inches
    19th Century CE NW Coast, Tlingit

    Ding, taotie masks on 4 sides, bronze, Anyang,
    China, Shang Dynasty,
    Fu Hao's tomb, ca. 1200 BCE



    Lady Fu Hao's tomb c1200 BCE
    Anyang, Henan, China, 
    Shang Dynasty/Bronze Age
    Wife of Shang Emperor Wu Ding

    Excavation in 1976

    Lady Fu Hao's tomb c1200 BCE
    Anyang, Henan, China, 
    Shang Dynasty/Bronze Age
    with skeleton remains placed on tiers, 
    Wife of Shang Emperor Wu Ding


    Ax (Yue), bronze, Anyang, China, 
    Shang Dynasty, ca. 1200 BCE

    Used for ritual sacrifices.
    Tomb contained dogs, cooking implements, 440 bronzes, 200 vessels, 600 jade, stone an bone carvings and 7,000 cowrie shells which were used as money.


    Fang Ding from Fu Hao's tomb c1200 BCE
    Anyang, China, Shang Dynasty

    Rubbing from the Fang Ding at left
    At the center of the design is the pictogram for a child.  Directly above the child pictograph is a broom and bracketing the child are two pictograms that represent woman.



    Tomb of the Marquis Yi of Zeng
    433 BCE 

    The Eastern Zhou moved their capital to Luoyang, on the north (yang) side of the Luo River, a tributary of the Yellow River. Like the area around Xian, Luoyang was strategic and had attracted human life from the Neolithic period. It was a capital site for the Xia, Shang, Zhou (Chengzhou) and Han dynasties. 

    Here excavations have revealed the wealth of the vassal kingdom of Zeng, in service to the Chu. 


    Marquis of Yi's burial complex

    Marquis Yi's tomb
    The burial complex of the 'Marquis of Zeng', first discovered in 1977, covered 220 square meters and had four separate chambers. In the northern and smallest were weapons, in the eastern the Marquis's tomb with nested wooden lacquer coffins and eight other coffins of women, in the western coffins of thirteen young women in silk shrouds. In the central and largest was a magnificent set of bronze bells. About 100 metres away another tomb was found subsequently with another set of bronze bells and other musical instruments.
    Tomb The four chambers of his tomb
    Dated by inscription to 433, the outer coffin measured 220 square metres. It was timber-built with four chambers.

    In it lay the Marquis, with eight young women who had been strangled and a dog, objects of jade, lacquer and bronze, musical instruments and weapons. A pair of daggers was inscribed 'bedroom dagger of marquis of Zeng'. In the central chamber were bronze vessels and bells and stone chimes, in the west 13 young women, and in the north more armour, chariot fittings, bamboo slips and 4000 bronze objects.

    Marquis Yi of Zeng's coffin
    Marquis Yi of Zeng's coffin
    Bamboo slips
    Bamboo slips
    There were also bamboo slips with writing in ink that described the Marquis' funeral and the people who attended.

    Earlier the Shang had incised script on the bones of animals or tortoises. Bamboo enabled texts to be painted in ink. The slips could be linked to form a book.

    Marquis Yi of Zeng chariot pit
    The 'royal pit' of the Marquis Yi of Zeng had 27 chariots and 76 horses, but no human skeletons
    Marquis  Yi of Zeng chariot  pit
    Chariot burial with a dog
    In one chariot a dog was buried.
    Chariot burial with a dog

    Bronze gui cooking pot with elephant handles
    Bronzes were placed outside the pit

    Bronzes were placed outside the pit

    Pottery painted in imitation of bronze
    and pottery with decoration painted in imitation of bronze.

    Pottery  painted in imitation of bronze

    Some of the bronzes, like this zun-pan (h. 30.1 cm, d. 25 cm), were elaborately decorated.

    Bronze zun-pan vessels

    Marquis of Yi's painted lacquer deer (77cm)
    The painted lacquer deer was in his burial chamber

    Marquis  of Yi's painted lacquer deer

    Bronze crane with deer antlers His bronze 'crane' with deer antlers (143.5cm), inscribed "Made for the eternal use of Marquis Yi of Zeng"

    This 'crane' with snake like dragons emerge from its body. It may have been a drum stand.


    Marquis Yi of Zeng Bells 433BCE 9'x25'
    (lost wax process)  Zhou Dynasty/Warring States Period no clappers 
    The central bell bears an inscription that indicates it was a gift to Marquis Yi from King Hui of Chu and cast in 433 B.C., the year the Marquis was buried. The bells are believed to have been played in court rituals to ensure the posterity of the imperial reign.





    Lost wax process

    tao-tieh like design on each bell

    Man Riding on a Dragon
    3rd C BCE
    painting on silk
    Zhou Dynasty

    outline and color method

    Man Riding on a Dragon
    3rd C BCE
    painting on silk
    Zhou Dynasty
    Qin, Chariot  221-207BCE
    from the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi 
    (The First Emperor of Qin)

    Umbrella is a luxury item probably denoting his class.The Umbrella is a symbol of spiritual authority and charity.

    Fish (Yu)
    Fish in Chinese sounds like the word for "Abundance and Affluence" so the fish symbolizes wealth. Fish shown with a lotus blossom symbolize "Year after Year may you live in Affluence".

    Heron (Lu)
    Heron in Chinese sounds a lot like the word for "path or way". A painting of a heron and a lotus has the meaning of "May your path be always upward".

    Dragon (Long)
    One of the most complex and multi-tiered Chinese symbols. The dragon is a good natured and benign creature. A symbol of male vigor and fertility, the dragon is also a symbol of the Emperor, the Son of Heaven. Paintings often show two dragons playing in the clouds with a ball or large pearl.



    Zhou Bi Disk
    c500-400 BCE
    jade 6.5"
    Confucius- (Con-fu-tzu)
    (translation means: great thinker and teacher)

    A disciple asked Confucius, saying, "Why, sir, does the superior man value jade much more highly than serpentine? Is it because jade is scarce and serpentine abundant?"

    "It is not," replied Confucius; "but it is because of the superior men of olden days regarded it as a symbol of the virtues. Its gentle, smooth, glossy appearance suggests charity of the heart; its fine close texture and hardness suggests wisdom; it is firm and yet does not wound, suggesting duty to one's neighbor; it hangs down as though sinking, suggesting ceremony; struck, it gives a clear note, long drawn out, dying gradually away and suggesting music; its flaws do not hide its excellences, nor do its excellences hide its flaws, suggesting loyalty; it gains our confidence, suggesting truth; its spirituality is like the bright rainbow, suggesting the heavens above; its energy is manifested in hill and stream, suggesting the earth below; as articles of regalia it suggests the exemplification of that than there is nothing in the world of equal value, and thereby is-TAO itself.