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 Helv, 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, when they fought against each other and hatred spread. 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, though Yue Kingdom formed alliances with Qi, Song, Jin and Lu Kingdom in Xuzhou, it still failed to unite north of the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River. 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 and research of Wu bronzes, proto-porcelain and jades for years. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Suzhou Museum, we host this exhibition with thirteen cultural institutions’ support, a continuation of the 2017 academic exhibition on Wu, Yue and Chu bronzes.
Nearly three hundred selected jades and proto-porcelain wares gather in Suzhou Museum to showcase the unusual days in the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. We divide this exhibition into eight parts, in hope of reviving the cultural connotation and historic development of Wu, Yue and Chu Kingdoms and promoting the academic exchanges and research of their culture.
Special thanks go to Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Hangzhou Museum, Chiangnan Waterery Region Culture Museum, Deqing Museum, Changxing Museum, Keqiao District Museum of Shaoxing, Anhui Provincial Museum, Anhui Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Bengbu Museum, Shucheng Cultural Relics Management Institute, Jingzhou Museum, Suzhou Institute of Archaeology, Office of Cultural Relics Management Committee of Wuzhong District.
The above serves as the preface.
Director of Suzhou Museum