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Birds, Nomads, Continuity and Change

November 2, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

A Professional Development Program for K-12 Educators

From taoties and dragons to birds, what does the changing design of motifs on the bronzes tell us about the cross-cultural pollination in ancient China? How did the change of symbols reflect the evolving concept between human society and the supernatural world?

The Western Zhou peoples and their armies, located in the Wei Valley near present day Xi’an, were initially believed to be vassals of the Shang kings. Before the Zhou conquered the Shang in 1060 BCE, they absorbed many aspects of existing Shang culture, including ancestor worship, the writing system, and bronze technology. In fact, it can be difficult to tell the difference between late Shang ritual bronzes and those made in the early Western Zhou period. Gradually, however, significant differences began to appear in the imagery, such as the replacement of the dominant taotie with confronted birds. The visual vocabulary began to both expand and change. The short inscriptions of ancestor names on Shang ritual vessels gave way to longer narratives documenting historical events. Ancestor worship remained strong but the Shang Di was replaced by the undefined concept of a supernatural force, called Tien or heaven, marking the worship of heaven with a circular altar and the square altar of earth. But by about 900 to 770 BCE, the second half of the Western Zhou, ritual vessel décor and vessel shapes visibly and significantly shifted, moving into a new direction which reflected the influence and pressure of nomadic tribes from the north and the west. Taoties disappeared, replaced by undulating bands.

Educators and CI Members: $10 / Session
General Public: $15 / Session
Free for NYS public school teachers and China Institute educational partners upon application

Limited full scholarship is available for NYS public school teachers to attend the entire series.

Apply for Scholarship

Register Here

New York University Project Developing Chinese Language Teachers (DCLT)
NYS Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBE-RN) at NYU
Contact: Yongqiang Lin, [email protected]

Designed for K-12 educator participants, discussion section at the end of each session will draw attention to new vocabularies and enduring questions to be learnt and asked in K-12 classrooms, as well as resources to enrich the teaching and learning of teachers and students of open mind and curiosity.

In partnership with New York University Project Developing Chinese Language Teachers (DCLT) and NYS Statewide Language Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBE-RN) at NYU, 12 hours of CTLE credits are offered for New York State teachers attending this program. Limited scholarship is available for NYS public school teachers to attend the entire series.

This program is part of a 6-session series, “Art, Ritual and Religion: Bronzes Vessels to Buddha Images, The Bridge Between the Living and the Dead”:

  1. October 5: Art, Ritual and Religion: An Introduction
  2. October 19: Taoties, Dragons, and Ancestors: Shang Dynasty (1600-1050 BCE)
  3. November 2: Birds, Nomads, Continuity and Change: Western Zhou Dynasty (1050-771 BCE)
  4. November 16: Innovation, Chaos, and Luxury: Eastern Zhou Dynasty (771-256 BCE)
  5. November 30: Age of Empire and the Afterlife: Qin (221-206 BCE) and Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE)
  6. December 14: Opening of the Lotus: Emergence of Buddhism (25-420 CE)

All sessions are open to general public


Professor Annette Juliano began her academic career at Vassar College, followed by Brooklyn College of the City of New York, then Rutgers University-Newark Campus, and finally at ISAW the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. Her interests have been focused on early Chinese art from the Neolithic through the Tang Dynasty (ca. 5,000 BCE through 906 CE); Her particular focus has been on Art from the Silk Road and Buddhist and Tomb sculpture and painting from the years known as the Northern and Southern Dynasties period, 4-7th centuries. At the Clarke Art Museum, Williamstown, MA, she organized and curated Unearthed. Perhaps her best-known exhibition remains Monks and Merchants, at Asia Society, NYC.

This series is made possible through the support of the Chinese International Education Foundation, and generous supporters of China Institute.


November 2, 2022
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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