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Bronze Axe Yue with Beast Mask Motif
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2022.08.31 17:10:34

Period: Shang dynasty(1600-1046 BCE)
Measurements: L. 17 cm, W. 15 cm
Provenance: Unearthed at the People’s Park, Zhengzhou, 1954

The Yue axe was decorated with beast mask which has two protruding ears, two large “fangs” are staggered up and down inside the openwork mouth, looking quite ferocious.

Yue was derived from the stone axe of the early Neolithic Age in China. The bronze Yue axes were mainly prevalent during Shang and Zhou periods. After Shang dynasty, they gradually became less practical as weapons, rather than closely associated with royal authority and came to be emblems of the military authority in warfare.

The Yue axes of the Shang dynasty were intricate and ferocious in shape, particularly for the large types, the massive size, openwork beast mask, demonstrating a terrifying and daunting majesty. In Western Zhou times, Yue axes began to diminish in size and decreased dramatically in number, whereas the shapes largely followed their predecessors of the Shang dynasty.

The Shang dynasty capital site in Zhengzhou lies in the east central part of the city, covering an area of 25 square kilometers, it was the capital of the early Shang dynasty. 

Inside the site, the royal palaces and the living quarters of the civilians were distributed in different parts. Outside the city are different sites for bronze casting, bone and pottery making workshops, hoards, burial pits, etc., which wielded tens of thousands of relics, including potteries, stone wares, bone articles bronzes, oracle bones, etc.