From the IGNCA Shelves

Metal work in Bronze Age

Metal Work in Bronze Age is an interesting subject. Reading the pages of books on the subject throws one back in time, conjecturing images in the mind. Here is a selection of books on the subject, available in the shelves of IGNCA library.

Metal work of the Bronze age in India by Paul Yule: This book seeks to unravel the many as yet unresolved aspects on the study of related work in Non-Harappans period of the 2nd millenniume B.C. According to the author, a considerable and still growing body of literature, which began to take form at the beginning of the century, surrounds the study of the earliest use of metal on the Indian subcontinent. The inverse proportion of speculation which pervades the study of the metal industry and the plethora of poorly grounded competing explanation, each seeking to clarify its cultural connections, like the heads of the mythical hydra, when chopped off only multiply into others. The find spots of the metal artifacts treated in this book lie scattered over an area ranging from Maharashtra to West Bengal. The northern most sites lie in Haryana and the southern most in Karnataka. He has used the term "Bronze Age" in a sense more diagnostic of the chronology than of the general level of cultural development. Most of the metal finds studied here, particularly the Copper Hoards, seem coeval with, or somewhat later than the neighbouring Harappan Culture, which undisputedly attests the use of arsenic and tin-bronze.

Indian Folk Bronzes by K.C. Aryan: This is about the folk bronzes of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Nasik, which have for long remained underground and neglected, and are on the verge of being forgotten. While much has been written during the last one hundred years on the classical arts and bronzes of South India, Orissa, Kurkihar, Bihar, Kashmir, Chamba, etc, which are already known for their superior workmanship and iconography, little efforts have been made to carry out research on the folk bronzes of north-western India. The author has traveled in the region extensively and compiled information. He collected pieces also. He feels that art collectors and museum have shown interest only in the known bronzes and have largely ignored the folk and primitive bronzes. He seeks to correct the situation in his work.

Ancient Chinese Bronzes by Ma Chengyuan: Chinese bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties have long been recognized as outstanding among artifacts produced by bronze cultures in the ancient world. The perfection of their casting, the magnificence of their forms and decoration – at once intricate and monumental – render them unique among ancient bronzes. In this monograph, Ma Chengyuan gives a succinct yet comprehensive survey of ancient Chinese bronzes, drawing on a wealth of Archaeological data to discuss the alloy and the mining of its components, the casting techniques, and the evolving historical and social background over a two-thousand-year period during which the tools, weapons, vessels, musical instruments, and other bronze pieces were produced and used.

The 115 selected examples, illustrated in 50 colour and 74 black-and-white plates, include some of the most famous examples of ancient bronzes in China’s major museums. In his discussion of the pieces the author pays special heed to the bronzes’ importance as historical documents, elucidating how each bronze contributes to a fuller understanding of the history of China’s Bronze Age.

The Akota Bronzes: This is part of the Archaeological series of the Department of Archaeology and the State Board for Historical Records and Ancient Monuments, Gujarat. The Akota bronzes described in the present volume represent a hoard of Jaina images discovered at Akota near Baroda. The exciting nature of the discovery and the romantic manner of their recovery is given by Dr. U.P. Shah in the Introduction. Akota, a hamlet on the western outskirts of the modern city of Baroda, is situated on the right bank of the Vishvamitri river. Known in ancient and medieval times as Ankottaka, it was a town of some importance between circa B.C. 200 and A.D.1100. The book discusses the history of Akota, the dramatic discovery of images and their origin. It also weaves connections and continuity in the western coastal region.

Bronzes other Metalwork and Sculpture: is about of private collection of Irwin Untermyer. Almost all the great collections of bronzes are now in public museums, such as the Bargello, the Lourvre, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kunsthis torische Museum, and the Frick Collection. It is therefore surprising to find in a private collection, formed within the past thirty years, an assemblage of bronzes, of the scope, quality, and diversity of the Irwin Untermyer Collection. This collection consists principally of bronzes originating in Italy, Germany, France, and the Netherlands from the 9th to the 18th centuries, and contains works by Bellano, Riccio, Severo da Ravenna, Cellini, Giambologna, Hubert Gerhard, Adriaen de vries, Gouthiere, and countless other masters of the art. The collection also includes small sculpture in wood and ivory and a selection of Charles II English enamels on brass such as probably does not exists elsewhere. 

Untermyer in his introduction writes, "The study of small bronzes is, in many respects shrouded in uncertainty. Attribution to a particular master by distinguished authorities, for long years unchallenged, have later been controverted and sometimes overthrown by scholars of equal authority. Even the country of origin is frequently obscure so that differences of opinion may exist as to whether a bronze is Flemish, French, German or Italian. The period of production may provoke wide differences of opinion for the artist may have been progressive in the character of his work or may have worked in the tradition of an earlier style. Notwithstanding these difficulties, the study of small bronzes has engaged the attention of some of the leading scholars of our time.

The end of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe CA. 1200 B.C. by Robert Drews: The end of the eastern Mediterranean Bronze age, in the 12th century B.C. is generally considered the "dawn time". However, this book takes a close look at the negative side. In many places an old and complex society came to an end ca. 1200 B.C. Hence the end of transformation of Bronze Age institutions is a topic of enormous dimensions. The author deals with the physical destruction of cities and palaces. He traces chronologically this destruction, which he refers to as "the Catastrophe". According to him, the ‘Catastrophe’ seems to have begun with sporadic destructions in the last quarter of the thirteenth century (B.C.), gathered momentum in the 1190s, and raged in full fury in the 1180s. By about 1175 the worst was apparently over, although dreadful things continued to happen throughout the 12th century.

Bronze-working Centres of Western Asia c. 1000- 539 B.C: This book is a collection of papers that were given at a colloquium held at the British Museum in June 1986 on Bronze-working centres of Western Asia between 1000 B.C. and 539 BC. The subject bears widespread interest in the elaborate bronze work of the Iron Age, ranging from cauldron attachments to decorated bronze bowls and gates. In the colloquium, each part of the Near East (including Egypt) was taken in turn, and an attempt made to identify the sort of bronzes being made there and determine whether they were being exported. The colloquium discussed the origin and route of the metalwork. The questions were more east-oriented rather than west oriented. Scholars from world over approached the subject in a novel way in an attempt to arrive at fresh answers. 

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