DOI: 10.3390/coatings13091480 ISSN:

Scientific Research on a Gold- and Silver-Inlaid Bronze Zun from the Han Dynasty

Dan Liu, Xiaolong Tian, Dong Zhang, Xianjing Zhou, Nana Li, Yajun Zhao
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Surfaces and Interfaces

The bronze Zun was one of the more prevalent high-class wine containers of the Han dynasty, representing the highest level of decoration in bronze at the time. However, little has been reported about its technical characteristics and scientific value. In this paper, the samples were selected for analysis based on scientific analysis, following the principle of “minimal intervention”, and a bronze Zun from the Han dynasty in the Gansu Provincial Museum collection was studied using ultra-deep field microscopy, X-ray flaw detection, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and energy spectrometry (EDS). The results show that the gold and silver decoration on the bronze is inlaid rather than gilt. Secondly, the body and lid of the vessel are molded in one shot, with the bird-head-shaped and animal-foot-shaped components cast separately and then attached to the lid and body. Thirdly, the corrosion of the bronze Zun is characterized by the copper matrix being corroded first and most severely, followed by the silver and, finally, the gold. The high purity of the gold wire embedded in this bronze Zun, the fine width of gold wire (154–190 μm), and the magnificent decoration show the excellent processing technology level of the precious metal and the high aesthetic level of ancient man during the Han dynasty. The results of the analysis of this bronze Zun can provide an essential reference for research on bronze vessels of the same type, the techniques of gold and silver misalignment, and the development of the history of bronze manufacture and technology during the Han dynasty.

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