The artifacts of the late Shang Dynasty depicted on a new stamp issue

October 28th, 2014 is glad to inform that Chunghwa Post is to release a series of stamps dedicated to artifacts of Shang Dynasty. The issue consists of eight stamps that are to be released on the 10th of December.

The Ruins of Yin, the remains of the capital of the late Shang Dynasty (late 14th century-mid-11th century BC), were discovered in Henan's Anyang. Because oracle bones and other late Shang relics have been unearthed there, it is a site of great archeological importance.

Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica has a rich collection of artifacts that were unearthed here from 1928 to 1937. In order to call attention to the beauty of Shang Dynasty artifacts, Chunghwa Post has specially selected eight objects, including oracle bones and stone, bronze and jade artifacts, for a set of eight stamps and a souvenir sheet. The designs follow:

(1) Standing Owl (NT$5): This marble three-dimensional figure is brilliantly rendered throughout its entire body. Lines have been carved into it to represent its eyebrows, eyes, and feathers, as well as various decorations on its chest and wings. A long groove runs along its back. It is conjectured that the object was used to decorate wood-framed architecture.

(2) Square Ding with Ox Motif (NT$5): This rectangular bronze cauldron has four legs and two handles. Ox-head decorations cover its four sides and four legs. Crested-feathered flying phoenixes on each side of the ox heads are depicted on the cauldron's long sides. The bottom of the interior of the cauldron is decorated with a pictograph character for ox.

(3) Oracle Bone (NT$5): When carrying out divination, the Shang diviners would carve the questions on the oracle bones. These questions, called dui zhen bu ci in Chinese, often came in pairs. The questions on this piece are about whether there would be a good harvest this year.

(4) Animal-Mask Bridle Ornament with Turquoise Inlays (NT$5): The hollow side of this three-dimensional mask has a pair of crossing supports. The front of the mask is inlaid with turquoise over a delicate bronze outline. It may have been a decorative part of a bridle that lay against a horse's forehead.

(5) Crested Human Head (NT$12): This flat decorative piece depicts a human face in silhouette. It has eyes, ears and a bulbous nose. Its mouth is open, revealing a neat set of teeth. On the top of the head is a tall crown with curling tail designs. There is either a hair ornament or a horn shaped object behind the ears that extends backward and then curls upward.

(6) Kneeling Anthropomorphic Figure with Tiger Head (NT$12): Kneeling, with a tiger's head and a human body, this figure has its hands on its knees. It head is tilted slightly upward and its open mouth reveals its saw-like teeth and canine teeth. Its ears are pricked up. A vertical groove runs along its back, possibly to attach it as an architectural ornament.

(7) You with Detachable Cup (NT$12): This wine bottle has a small mouth, long neck, low chamber, and cylindrical bottom on which it stands. It has a hoop-shaped handle that matches the curve of the upper chamber, and the handle is attached to the lid with a toad-shaped chain. The two ends of the handle both feature rabbit-head ornamentation. The neck can be detached from the bottle to serve as a goblet.

(8) Inscribed Deer Skull (NT$12): This deer skull dates back to kings Diyi and Dixin of Shang Dynasty. It records a sacrifice made to the previous king with the game they captured in Hao on the way back from their military expedition to Fang. Currently only two such inscribed deer skulls have been unearthed by archeologists.


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