Jinsha Awakes the Thousand-year-old Ancient Kingdom of Shu
Writer: Xiao Yi
In 2001, as the gully drain of the house property company is excavated, the door of the ancient kingdom of Shu in Jinsha has been opened. Much similarities on the unique skills of the bronze ware, gold ware and the crockery where are both found in Sanxingdui and Jinsha are implicitly shared to show their origins as the father and the son. Those standing bronze human sculptures suggesting the group of wizards or ancestors, with golden veils, manifest the excellence of these Jinsha people, which shows their noble status as well as the golden kingdom.
On June 2005, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage officially announces the gold-foil of the Sun Bird excavated from Jilin of Chengdu as the new symbol of China's intangible cultural heritage. Within there is a revolving fireball, while externally there are four birds distributed around it with the equal distance and ready for soaring to the same direction, and the lines are smooth and seem to be fully rhythmic. The revolving fireball represents the sun, and the four birds are said to be the four emissaries of the Solar God as well as implicitly the four directions the east, the south, the west and the north, what’s more, the twelve aureoles stand for the twelve months of the year or the twelve hours of the day, which embodies the perfect combination of the ancient Shu Kingdom’s people’s ideology of the unity of nature and human, the exquisite craft and the unrestrained imagination.
But such precious heritages are almost missed by us. On January 2001, when the house property company was excavating the gully drain in Jinsha village where is located in the south bank of Mo Di river of Chengdu, beneath the excavated soils abundant crushed ivories, jade ware and gold ware were hidden. The Gold Bird was rolled into the soils, but fortunately it reappears in the world owing to the staff’s conscientiousness when screening. The kingdom’s door of West Zhou Dynasty is slowly opened because of the reemergence of the golden mask, golden crown, ivory, standing bronze human sculptures, jade cong, jade shell, jade sheath and so on, therefore Jinsha comes to life.
The Dynasty Governed by the Father and Son, the “Excavated” Migratory History of the Ancient Shu Kingdom
Until now, about 6000 cultural objects including golden ware, bronze ware, jade ware, crockery, stoneware, ivories and so on, have been excavated, and they are easily reflected to share the similarities with Sanxingdui in the views of both shapes and designs.
Compared to the large standing bronze human sculpture, the small one of Jinsha is too tiny to be equal to the size of one adult’s hand, and the sculpture’s crown is decorated with thirteen revolving cambered rays, which stands for the radiant sun. Behind its head a long pigtail is, a short staff is pinned in his waist and his hands are folded in front of the chest as the large human sculpture does, as though both of them were hosting a sacred ritual. In Sanxingdui a large number of the bronze head sculptures have been excavated, whose tops are fitted with copper coins which can be dismantled, while in Jinsha, though bronze head sculptures have not been found, copper coins with the same kind in Sanxingdui excavated, whose sizes are perfectly matched to the Sanxingdui’s bronze head sculptures, as though all of them in both sites were produced by the same factories.
The golden crown excavated in Jinsha is carved with four same pictures: one fish and one bird are pierced by the sharp arrow, the bird’s neck is thoroughly pierced by the shaft while the head of the bird is pierced deeply by the arrowhead. Such similar pictures are as well carved in the golden stick of Sanxingdui, but different from that of Jinsha, there are two fishes, two birds and two sharp arrows. Golden ware is the important vessel in the ancient Shu Kingdom, because during the pre-Qin period, no words were used by the Shu people, instead, if they carved the pictures in the golden ware, it meant something significant, like initiating the war or making the pledge and so on, had taken place, which, obviously are the secrets shared by Sanxingdui and Jinsha together.
Crockery is easy to be broken, and it is a pity that most of them have been into pieces while being excavated. Though these pieces do not show themselves much as outstanding, actually in the views of the archaeologists they are more convincing than the magnificent bronze wares to justify the history. Ancient people usually use the crockery to drink water, alcohol and eat, what’s more, one tribe does not use other tribes’ crockery for no reason at all, as a matter of fact, if two tribes are proved to have the same crockery, it always means that both share the similarly cultural nature. During the later period of Sanxingdui history, the sharp-bottomed crockery whose style is different from the previous ones and whose “members” include the lamp, cup and the jar and so on with the sharp bottom, became popular, however, it is the mainstreaming in Jinsha at that time. The sharp-bottomed crockery is usually used by Hajin in the west Hubei Province, during the late period of Shang Dynasty, these Hajin as the whole group left their mother land for the Basin of Sichuan, as a result, the appearance of the sharp-bottomed crockery in the plain of Chengdu is probable to be concerned with the migration of them.
Much similarities on the unique skills of the bronze ware, gold ware and the crockery where are both found in Sanxingdui and Jinsha are implicitly shared to show their origins as the father and the son. In the 1970s on the remote Baoji city of Shaanxi Province, the archaeologists have successively excavated the tombs of the West Zhou Dynasty on Ru Jiazhuang village, Zhu Yuangou village and ZhiFangyou village where are all located in the both sides of Wei River, and there exists the buried “弓鱼” Country where has already vanished. Though in the relics of “弓鱼” Country the excavated high-necked bronze ware named Zuli is the common vessel in the daily life of Zhou Dynasty’s people, the sharp-bottomed crockery which is similar to that of Jinsha plays the very dominating role in their livelihood, as these vessels are found to be almost every tomb and usually are put beside the occupants with jade ware and other accessories, which proves their significant status in “弓鱼” Country’s people’s heart. The occupants of No.1 Tomb and No.2 Tomb in Ru Jiazhuang village are respectively the feudal nobles “弓鱼” count and his wife Jingji, each of which stands one bronze human sculpture in the southwestern platform. The hands of the two bronze human sculptures are exaggeratedly designed to be grasped as the circle as the standing human sculptures of Sanxingdui actually do.
The word “弓鱼” which origins from the name of “弓鱼” Country first appeared in the bronze plates and bronze pots, but it, as the ideographic one, was not filed into “The Grand Dictionary of Chinese Characters” and “The Grand Dictionary of Chinese Language”, that is to say, it is invented by the ancient people on the basis of some event or some conditions, however, now that the pictures depicting the fishes are pierced by the bows are carved in the golden crane of Sanxingdui and golden crown of Jinsha, it is probably the very meaning that the word “弓鱼” wants to express.
The conjecture of Mr Sun Hua eventually restores the baffling history of the ancient Shu Dynasty’s people for us: after the decline of the ancient Sanxingdui country, some people came to Chengdu and established a new country in Jinsha, while other people left for the southern Shaanxi Province and built the “Gongyu” Country on both sides of Wei River. Other scholars suppose that “Oath in Muye” from “Book of Documents” records names of eight bribes participating in the battle of Muye, there are Yong, Shu, Qiang, Zong, Wei, Lu, Peng and Pu. Since the Zhou Dynasty had been established, the people of Shu tribe who revolted against the tyrant Zhou of Shang Dynasty were bestowed with the lands on both sides of Wei River, that is the country named as the “Gongyu”. Since then, these people of Shu tribe no longer had returned to their motherland, and there records the history of it that for surviving, the “Gongyu” Country had to keep the good relation with the Zhou Dynasty by marriage, while at the same time it is in the ceaseless wars with Shi Country and Ling Country, eventually the “Gongyu” Country passed away.
The Unique “Yellow Kingdom” Worshiping the Gold
On April 2007, Jinsha Museum of Chengdu opened, and the treasures that Jinsha people have kept for thousands of years first come to the public. In the recent years, lots of scholars have been accompanied by me to Jinsha and noticed such the phenomenon that a large quantity of these treasures excavated in the ancient kingdom of Jinsha is made of gold, such as the Gold Bird, golden mask, the golden belt with double paddle-fishes, frog-shaped ornaments, horn-shaped ornaments and so on, most of which are made of the thin golden leafing or golden foil, therefore these treasures are probably the accessories of some bronze ware or lacquer ware rather than the utensils which can be used for the practical purpose.
Since the Gold Bird was figured, the archaeologists have conjectured that it may be not the independent being but the part of some utensil. Beside the Gold Bird, there are the animal-shaped golden foils whose features are sharp mouths and the backs with orderly-dots, looking like the toads. In China, the sun is regarded as masculine, while the moon as feminine, there in “Huainanzi” is not only the saying that “the toad is in the moon”, but also that of which “Chang’e flies to the moon, transfers herself as the toad and spirit of the moon”, which proves that the toad symbolizes the moon. The bronze drum excavated in Guangxi Province is decorated with twelve cambered rays of the sun on the center of the drum-head and around the edge of the drum there are four toads and two knights, which unveils the secret of Jinsha, that the centered Gold Bird represents the sun while the four frog-shaped golden foils or more which are distributed around the edge of the drum with the equal distance, implies the moon.
The golden mask is carved with the almond-shaped eyes, curved eyebrows, and the smiling mouth. In the ancient Egypt, the golden mask was usually used to hide the withered faces of Pharaohs. When the archaeologists opened the tomb of Tutankhamon, they found that the hands of Pharaoh were crossed on the chest, and his face was covered with the snake-patterned golden mask. But the golden mask of Jinsha is too small with the height of 3.74 cm and the width of merely 4.92cm at most, probably none king of Shu Country can wear so tiny the mask, therefore the archaeologists conjecture that the golden mask should be matched to the size of the bronze head sculpture. In 2007, another golden mask similar to the one of Sanxingdui was excavated in the area of Jinsha, and all shows that still some bronze sculptures have been buried under the relics of Jinsha.
It is the very interesting phenomenon, but previously in the relics of the Dynasties of Shang and Zhou like the Yin Ruins of An Yang, the bronze wares are numerous but the golden ones are few, as a conclusion, the word “gold” at that time actually means the bronze ware, while the material “gold” is named as the Chinese word “Tang Yu”. But in the ancient Shu Country the situation is different, merely in Jinsha about 200 golden wares have been excavated, which in quantity and kind has topped at the specific period of China. The golden crown and the Golden Bird symbolize the Majesty, what’s more, the bronze human sculptures carrying the meaning of “groups of wizards” or “ancestors” show off their noble status by being put the golden mask on, which not only manifests the Jinsha people’s excellence but also makes the ancient golden kingdom widely known by the world.
The Plain of Chengdu: the Area Inhabiting No Elephant but Existing the Most-Excavated Ivories Around the World
More than amazing it is for people to figure out the other secret of Jinsha, owing to the excavation, one ivory pit has been exposed, inside of which ivories are stacked up for eight floors, the longest one is about 185cm, and the total is about 1000, which in Chinese archaeological history or even in the world is unprecedented. But this phenomenon as well confuses many people as now that in the plain of Chengdu no elephant inhabits, it is inexplicable that there exist the most-excavated ivories around the world.
The ivory of Jinsha is identified by the specialist as that belongs to Asian elephant in the male, each of them has two ivories, and there is no doubt that at least five hundred elephants in the male, equal enough to a large family, have provided for about 1000 ivories. Nowadays Asian elephants inhabit on the regions of Southeast and South Asia, and there exists none in the Basin of Chengdu, what’s more, there goes such the saying that “walking on the narrow paths of Shu Kingdom is more difficult than climbing up to Heaven!”, as a result, in terms of the traffic conditions at that period, it is most probably difficult for transporters to transport thousands of millions of tons of ivories from abroad. Therefore, there exists the speculation that likely it is that these ivories are from the plain of Chengdu.
Perhaps historical materials can throw light on it. In “The History Written by Lu Buwei” there is the story narrating that “the people of Shang Dynasty disciplined many a fierce elephant to bully people in the eastern regions of the Ancient China, so the Duke of Zhou sent the army to expel them to the southern regions of the Yangtze River”, which means that the people of Shang Dynasty used to ride on the elephant to fight against the army of the Duke of Zhou; “The Classic of Mountains and Rivers” narrates the story that one python swallowed an elephant on the areas of Ba Kingdom where is located along the Three Gorges. Families of ancient elephants were widely distributed in the areas from the north of Yellow River to the south of Yangtze River, however, due to the cold climate, these elephants left and gradually migrated to the south, so ancient people yearned towards them, which engenders such the word literally implying that the elephants are missed.
No exception there is on the plain of Chengdu, and inside the No.1 sacrificial pit of Sanxingdui quantities of the residues of burned ivories are left over, and they are authenticated as the incisors and molars of the elephants. In the Zhuwa Street of Peng County there are a number of excavated bronze wares of Shang and Zhou Dynasties, and the images of elephants in the ancient bronze drinking-urn are vivid, which can be conjectured that because the people of Shu Country probably have met the elephants, the artwork is created on the basis of their appearances. The climate in the plain of Chengdu is more humid than that of Yellow River, and the forest is thick, where is apt for kinds of birds and beasts to perch on, consequently it makes sense that families of elephants live there. Tusks of wild boars, deer’s horns and teeth of rhinoceros, black bears, hog-nosed badgers, cows and horses are over 500 square meters to the north of the ivory pit, therefore archaeologists have guessed that at least 1500 wild boars and 1000 deer had been hunted for supplying many a tusk and horn of deer, and it can be concluded that people of Jinsha are excellently good at hunting.
What purpose is it for Jinsha people to store so many ivories? The lines-patterned jade tablet excavated in Sanxingdui clarifies the relations between the people of the ancient Shu Country and ivories. On the top of the carved picture in the ware are three wizards wearing the oval hats, on the bottom of it are two illusory mountain peaks where one bulky object with the curved and sharp pattern is exposed on its edge, and the very object is the ivory. The carved picture in the worn jade tablet of Jinsha is a little vague, but it seemingly depicts such the situation where one person of ancient Shu Country kneeling on his one knee lifts up the ivory with difficulties. It appears that thousands of years ago a large number of crude ivories had been used by the ancient people in the worshipful and sacrificial rituals, maybe in these ancient Shu Country’s people’s eyes, it is much wiser and fitter to offer the intact ivories as the gods’ tributes.
The cultural relics in Sanxingdui are mostly burned in the two sacrificial pits, while the treasures of Jinsha people are scattered on the floodplains. For about 500 years, Jisha had been all the time the sacrificial center, as Jinsha people always offered many a golden ware, bronze ware and jade ware in the worship ceremonies as the golds’ tributes, and after the ritual, buried all. As time flied, these treasures had been thickly stacked up for 3 meters in the area of which is now the relic site of Jinsha Museum. It seems that some episodes of the history have been stored, of which two thousand year ago, Jinsha people worshiped the mountains and rivers, extolled the sun and the moon, recollected their ancestors, what’s more, the treasures of this ancient kingdom were ceaselessly bestowed to so holy the land, and the obscure incantations lingered, forever.
Take No.5 bus, No.79 bus, No.82 bus, No.84 bus, No.100 bus and so on to the Qingyang Road North Station or Jinsha Relics East Gate Station, then get to the destination by walking for 200 meters
The ticket price is 80 yuan, for students the price is 40 yuan; the fee for interpreter’s guiding for one to ten people is 50 yuan, the rent of vocal guiding device is 10 yuan per time;
The price of the 4D theater ticket is 20 yuan per person;
The B ticket price of the music drama “Jinsha” is 180 yuan; the A ticket price is 280 yuan; the special ticket price is 380 yuan; the VIP ticket price is 580 yuan
8:00-18:00 (17:30: the deadline for selling tickets); the performing time of “The Dreams of Jinsha” is for 15 minutes, and the drama is played every one hour, the last drama is on at 17:00 per day; the show time of “Jinsha” starts at 20:00 per day and lasts for 90 minutes