China’s Neolithic Period / Dawenkou Culture

China's Neolithic Period / Dawenkou Culture
China’s Neolithic Period / Dawenkou Culture

China’s Neolithic Period / Dawenkou Culture – Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 archaeologists have made great efforts to systematically annotate and research all excavations of ancient sites and tombs throughout the country. Modern methods of radiocarbon dating have helped provide new information.  Neolithic sites that have been excavated in the Yellow River Valley provide documentation of the earliest manufacture of pottery in Honan and Shensi Provinces in what is known as the Yang-Shao Culture, named after Yang-shao Village in Honan Province, the site where the first artefacts of this type were found.

The village of Pan-p’o in Shensi Province, which was excavated in the 1950s, is a typical Neolithic village of the Yang-Shao Culture of six to seven thousand years ago. It was a matriarchal society, the people produced handmade pottery for daily use and finer ritual ware remarkable for its liveliness and originality, particularly the painted vessels with fish and human mask designs.

Wheel-made pottery was introduced some 5000 years ago in the Lung-shan Culture, a culture characterised by fine burnished black ware, though hand-coiled work in red clay was still being made. The town of Lung-shan in western Shantung gave the name to this culture type. There is evidence from recent excavations in the T ’ai-hang Mountains in Shantung Province and northern Kiangsu that there may be an intermediate culture, the Ta-wen-k’ou Culture, linking and perhaps overlapping the Yang-Shao and Lung-shan Cultures.

In Chinese ceramics these types of pottery are characteristic of the Very earliest periods—historically imprecise periods considered by some to be part legendary until they are more fully authenticated by the archaeologist and the historian.
Other Information sources:
“Chinese Ceramics through the Ages”
Published in Australia 1983
Authors: Wanda Garnsey with Rewi Alley

Neolithic Period Dawenkou Culture

Information source “Handbook of Chinese Ceramics”
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Neolithic period Dawenkou culture was named for its type site at Dawenkouzhen, located between Taian Xian and Ningyang Xian, in Shandong Province. Radiocarbon dates of about 4300—2400 B.C. indicate that this culture continued for close to two thousand years in Shandong and northern Jiangsu provinces; in its later phase, it extended into Henan Province as well. In as much as it lasted for such a long time—approximating the length of our present Christian era—the Dawenkou culture is ordinarily divided by archaeologists into early, middle, and late periods.

The diverse sizes and furnishings Of a considerable number of tombs excavated at the Dawenkou site demonstrate that social distinctions were well established. Smaller tombs were sparsely equipped, while larger ones could contain close to one hundred objects. Large quantities of pigs’ skulls found among the grave goods indicate that pig breeding played an important part in Dawenkou agriculture.

Earthenware clay objects produced during the very lengthy Dawenkou era understandably underwent substantial changes over the centuries. There is great variety in the colour of the earthenware bodies, which can be red, grey, brown, yellow, black, or white. Dawenkou potters adapted their clays to the purpose of the vessel: some clays were carefully washed and used with little or no modification; Others were tempered with fine- or coarse-grained sand. Surfaces of ceramics by and large are smooth and very often have been burnished. Objects have been decorated by different techniques; designs can be painted, reticulated, carved, stamped, or applied in low relief.

For the most part, early Neolithic Dawenkou pottery is fairly low-fired, unaltered or tempered red earthenware There are not many types of vessels, and the shapes are relatively simple These wares were constructed by hand, usually by the coiling method, and the mouth rims were frequently finished on a slowly moving wheel.

Dawenkou painted pottery, which was manufactured in limited quantities during the early and middle periods, is quite distinctive. It has been painted in red, black and white, sometimes over a layer of red or white slip. There is a striking resemblance between the designs seen on some Dawenkou-painted wares and those found on the Yang Ho-painted pottery excavated in Henan province.

China's Neolithic Period / Dawenkou Culture
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