Travelers in time
A Southern Song Dynasty crystal. [Photo by ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY]
"In an age where people only lived for 30 to 40 years, an artisan could spend almost an entire lifetime finishing just a few items," she adds.
"To our eyes today, an object may simply appear to be an attractive ornament, but they actually represent the life of an artisan."
For a long time in early Chinese history, the Central China Plain appeared in official documents as the political and cultural hub of the country, while Zhejiang was often regarded as a marginalized and uncivilized land.
"Archaeological discoveries have shown us that is not the case," Yu explains. "But the objects from Zhejiang do feature very different characteristics from those in the north."
For instance, while ritualistic artifacts made of bronze prevailed in northern China from the Shang Dynasty (c.16th century-11th century BC) through the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), at the same time similarly shaped jade and porcelain artifacts were being made in Zhejiang-that is, everything from musical instruments to food containers.