Need help with my writing homework on Response Paper to Bagleys Shang Ritual Bronzes. Write a 500 word paper answering; Bagley identifies the casting technique used as influential in determining the design of the ritual bronze obtained. Together with the material, the technique used in casting was the key influence in the features obtained. In this discussion, there shall be an illustration of the interaction of the technique and material used in order to develop the required design of the ritual bronze. To achieve the discussion’s objective, four questions shall guide the discussion. These questions shall focus on the role of material and technique in the creative process of casting a Shang bronze, how Bagley understand artistic freedom and constraint, the role Shang patrons play and the artist during the casting of bronze.
From the beginning, it should be noted that the casting technique and materials used influenced the design of the models. For instance, casting the bronze rituals using clay, instead of metal, ensured that the decorations on the Shang bronze rituals were achieved while the technique used during casting was responsible for more features that are fundamental. The technique used consisted of using wax as the main material to cast the models. The wax was given the exact shape as the desired shape of the finished bronze. After the wax model, the casters created a mold around the model by packing clay around it and then melting out the wax to ensure that the core remained empty inside. In the empty inside, bronze was poured inside in the empty spaces with the mold of clay broke to reveal the final bronze model. The clay molds also contributed to the design in different ways. Casters curved lines along the mold in order to provide the final product an aesthetic appeal. The technique, popularly known as the lost-wax technique, also produced different sections of a model after removing a mold in sections from the casting.
Metalworkers, in the Shang ritual bronzes, had considerable freedom in their artwork despite some various constraints. In regards to the artistic freedom that the enjoyed, the metalworkers had the freedom of experimenting in the casting method that they used to make the ritual bronzes, which explains the diverse methods used in casting the models. Moreover, artistic freedom is evident in the approaches that the metalworkers used in developing different forms of decorations that suited their own tastes or based on their own preferences (Bagley 9). The artistic freedom attributed to the choice of decorations led to diverse decorations and development of different ritual bronzes in the Shang dynasty. However, such was the only artistic freedoms that the casters and metalworkers worked with, as there were some artistic constraints experienced by the artists. For instance, the patrons, who never participated in the actual casting of the bronzes, forbid the artists from depicting human figures and from describing features related to daily life’s interactions. Such limitations controlled the artist’s influence on the final product since they inhibit the way that they expressed themselves through the work that they produced.
During the Shang dynasty, the ritual bronzes were vessels for conducting rituals intended for worshipping the ancestors with others cast in remembrance of important events in lives of the owners, which means that they were made for elites within the society or for imperial institutions such as the military or state religion. In this case, a patron, the individual owner of the bronze ritual or the individual entrusted by an organization that required the bronze ritual, financed the construction of the bronze ritual and gave instructions on the design of the artwork including other things such as the shape and inscriptions around the ritual bronzes (Bagley 8).
In casting a bronze, the founder, also known as a foundryman, is the artist. In this case, the founder began the process of making the model while using clay, which was shaped as the exact shape of the expected ritual bronze, and later using wax, which was later molten to provide the empty inside that was required to be filled in using the bronze (Bagley 9).
Bagley, Robert A. “Shang Ritual Bronzes: Casting Technique and Vessel Design.” Archives of
Asian Art, 43 (1990): 6-20. Print.