As a China historian, one thing I have always appreciated about living and teaching in China is the ability to take my students on field trips. Usually this involves leading them on neighborhood tours of Shanghai. This semester, I am teaching a course on ancient China covering the Shang, Zhou, Qin, and Han periods and so I chose to take the students to the Shanghai Museum. Those familiar with the museum know that it has one of the best collections of Shang and Zhou dynasty bronze vessels in the world.
Since bronzes were central to the ritual cultures of both dynasties and also reveal a glimpse into the belief systems of the age—not to mention they are mysterious and beautiful to behold— we spent much of our time in that section of the museum. We also visited the jade section, which goes back even further to neolithic times. Leading us on the tour was a docent named Jerri So. She is visiting the museum for a few months as an intern before returning to Taipei. Through a student at DKU who also interned there last summer, we were able to connect with her. She gave us an excellent guided tour, explaining through earphones each object we stopped to observe during the tour.
Here are some highlights from both the bronze and jade sections: