Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Art of Ancient China

What is significant about the “Standing Male Figure” from Sanxingdui?

Shang artists (c. 1700–211 B.C.E.) are well-known for making bronze sculptures using the piece-mold casting process, especially bronze vessels for water, wine, and food. But, when the “Standing Male Figure” from Sanxingdui was discovered, it astonished scholars and changed the way they thought about ancient Chinese art. More than eight feet tall, this towering male sculpture is highly abstracted with a long, cylindrical body, jutting elbows, and large, circular hands. Nothing quite like this had ever been discovered, and scholars now think there may have been other significant art-producing cultures separate from the Shang dynasty during this time.


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