Decorated models, replication, and assembly lines for bronze industrial production in 500 B.C.E. China

Kin Sum (Sammy) LI*, Quanyu WANG, J. Keith WILSON, Fan Jeremy ZHANG, Jody Ho Yee CHEUNG, Tsz Hin CHUN, Sum LAM, Mingyong PANG, Haoran XIE, Mingqiang WEI, Kin San LEE

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the earliest examples of replication of bronze objects of complicated structure in China. It uses four quadrupeds from the Freer Gallery (National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution), the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the British Museum, and the Yūrinkan Museum in Kyōto as examples to illustrate the complex technology required in replicating bronzes. It provides evidence to define identical bronzes and proves that the four quadrupeds shared the same decorated model. The application of section-mold casting, spacers, clay cores, and mold section assemblage will be examined using 3D scanning, X-ray photography, computerized tomography (CT) scanning, and alloy composition analysis.

本文研究對象是中國最早期具有複雜結構的複製青銅器。弗利爾美術館(美國史密森尼學會轄下的國立亞洲藝術博物館)、三藩市亞洲藝術博物館、大英博物館、京都藤井有鄰博物館各有一件青銅獸;本文以此四獸舉例說明複製青銅器的過程中所需的複雜技術。本文提供證據去定義何為一模一樣的青銅器,並證明此四青銅獸共享同一個修整完備的模。本文作者會利用 3D 掃描技術、 X 光攝影、 CT 掃描、以及合金成份分析去闡述青銅工業生產當中的分範法、墊片、泥芯、外範組合等技術。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-142
Number of pages34
JournalEarly China
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The work described in this paper was partially supported by grants from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), China (Project No. HKBU 12604017, 12625716, 14600118, and 22601019); the Quality Education Fund, Government of the HKSAR (no. 2018/1337); and the HKBU Equipment Matching Fund (RC-EMF 07/17–18); Sammy Li is the principal investigator of all of these projects.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Society for the Study of Early China and Cambridge University Press 2021.


  • Decorated model
  • Houma
  • identical bronze
  • assembly line
  • industrial production
  • 修整完備的模
  • 侯馬
  • 一模一樣的銅器
  • 流水線
  • 工業化生產
  • Assembly line
  • Industrial production
  • Identical bronze


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