Dream of a State: Bronzes of Wu, Yue and Chu States

Date:2017-06-12 Browsing Times:2695


In the early Western Zhou Dynasty, two princes, Taibo and Zhongyong, built the Wu Kingdom. The nineteenth king of Wu Kingdom, Shoumeng, advocated militarism and made Wu Kingdom strong in the region. Later, after the painstaking efforts of several kings, it gradually became an important power in the Spring and Autumn Period. The Kingdom came to its summit under the reign of King Helu, who appointed to rebuild the city. This was considered to be the origin of Suzhou.

The battle between Wu and Chu Kingdom started from King Shoumeng, where they fought against and hate each other. In 473 B.C., King Goujian of Yue Kingdom, who had once been defeated by King Fuchai of Wu Kingdom, resumed his territory. King Fuchai committed suicide and Wu Kingdom broke down. After that, Yue Kingdom fought against Qi, Song, Jin and Lu Kingdom, but failed to defeat them. Chu Kingdom gradually expanded its territory towards the east, and finally to the north of Sihe River, located in Shandong Province. In 333 B.C., King of Chu launched a war in the east, in which Yue Kingdom perished. After about a hundred years, Chu Kingdom became weaker. In 223 B.C., General Wang Jian and General Meng Wu of Qin Kingdom defeated Chu Kingdom and seized the King Fuchu. Finally, the dreams of Wu, Yue and Chu Kingdom were disillusioned and Qin Kingdom established the first empire in Chinese history.

One thousand years have passed, and great changes have taken place. Though the kingdoms have vanished, they have left many relics. As the center of relic collection, protection, research, demonstration and education, Suzhou Museum has been committed to the collection of Wu bronzes for years. In 2013, Suzhou Museum successfully collected 58 bronze weapons of Wu and Yue Kingdom. Among them is the Sword of King Fuchai, which is considered as the most exquisite. In 2015, the Sword of King Yumo became the collection of Suzhou Museum. An inscription of 75 characters are cast on the sword, one with the most characters among all the unearthed swords up to now.

Over one hundred bronzes of Wu, Yue and Chu Kingdom gathered in Suzhou Museum this time, which collectively manifestedthe glory of Spring and Autumn Period. The exhibition is divided into four parts: “Bronze Weapons”, “Bronze Ritual Vessels”, “Bronze Musical Instruments”and “Bronze Crafts”. We hope that this exhibition will represent the dreams of Wu, Yue and Chu Kingdom, and will also promote the cultural exchanges and academic research of Wu, Yue and Chu Kingdom.

Here we would like to extend the most sincere gratitude to 22 cultural institutions who have provided support for this exhibition.

This is the preface.

Chen Ruijin

Director of Suzhou Museum