Zhou (culture)

  1. Home
  2. top of the aat hierarchies
  3. Styles and Periods Facet
  4. Styles and Periods (hierarchy name)
  5. [styles, periods, and cultures by region]
  6. Asian
  7. East Asian
  8. Chinese (culture or style)
  9. Chinese dynastic styles and periods
  10. Zhou
Scope note
Refers to the the culture, style, and period of the Zhou dynasty, a period spanning ca. 1050 to 256 BCE. The Zhou dynasty succeeded the Shang dynasty. The area ruled by the Zhous was very large but their rule was not direct and so was often challenged. The Zhou period is divided into the Western Zhou (ca. 1050-771 BCE) and the Eastern Zhou (771-256 BCE). There was a great deal of regional diversity in the Zhou period, but overall it was a time of noteworthy political, philosophical, religious, and social changes. Many basic Chinese traditions were established and the earliest Chinese literature dates from the Zhou period, including the writing of Confucius. The population increased at this time and iron tools became more widespread, leading to agricultural advances. The rise of a merchant class and the development of coinage created a bigger market for artistic wares, of which bronzes remained the most important, becoming more secular and serving as symbols of status, wealth, and authority. Longer inscriptions are found on Zhou bronzes and are now valuable records of early Chinese history. The decoration of bronzes became more abstract, geometric, and colorful with an increased use of relief and precious inlay. The many small states of the Zhou dynasty became virtually independent of central authority and it was the Qin who eventually defeated the other states to establish the first unified Chinese rule.
Accepted term: 10-Jun-2024