Puzzle of

Bronze Bird-Man

Three thousand-year-old bronze statue from a previously unknown Chinese culture, discovered in 1986 at Sanxingdui in the province of Sichuan (Szechuan).

This photo is by David Schroeter, part of a set taken in the new Sanxingdui museum. This is one of the best and most complete tours of the Sanxingdui discoveries available online, showing items like the bronze trees, wall plaques, 8-foot tall statue, and bird head.

It’s remarkable how many of the objects stylistically resemble artifacts from the Western Hemisphere. I’ve often wondered if some artistic and mythological elements found in both China and Native American cultures could come from their mutual ancestry (10,000 years ago and more? *boggle*), or from unrecognized pre-Columbian contacts (Chinese ships blown astray all the way to the west coast of North America?), or if they’re convergent cultural evolution due to some similitarity of circumstance.

I’m thinking of elements like: jade being very highly valued; mythological/religious importance of four cardinal directions, each with its own color and symbolic animal; some factors in design. The Sanxingdui artifacts are important examples of the latter, the design or “look” reminiscent of Haida or Aztec work, more than Chinese.

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