Ancient bronzes from China, Ordos and the Steppes

Ben Janssens Oriental Art and Rupert Wace Ancient Art are delighted to offer this collection of ancient bronzes from Ordos and the Steppes. It is appropriate that a dealer in Chinese and Far Eastern art should collaborate with a dealer in antiquities from Mediterranean and Near Eastern civilizations to present these bronzes as much of the material comes from little known cultures located artistically and geographically where their two worlds overlap.

During the first millennium BC, the Ordos area, located in northwestern China bordering on Siberia, was populated by nomads belonging to the cultural regions of Central Asia extending far to the west along the Steppes. The Ordos bronzes mainly consist of decorative plaques which were sewn onto garments or adorned their horses’ bridles. Some are more prosaic and act as buckles and others also have functional purposes but retain a symbolic resonance. They are nearly always decorated with animal motifs leading to this art being frequently referred to as ‘Animal Style’. The plaques are skilful documents of the life of the people for whom they were produced and help in the understanding of the art objects’ precious significance within the context of a herdsman’s life.

These bronzes were created by master metalworkers whose images of animals and geometric designs fused the functional nature of the artefact with an intrinsic appreciation for beauty. Due to the nomadic lifestyle of these people the objects they produced were influenced both by Chinese art on the eastern side of their travels and by the arts of civilizations like those of the Scythian and Achaemanid cultures in the West. The resulting ‘Animal Style’ in turn exerted a strong influence on the more Western art.

Some of the pieces in the collection, formed over a period of many years, come from well-known collections and were purchased either privately or at auctions in Europe and America. They all combine a beauty and simplicity of line and form that appeals to the modern eye as much as it did to the nomadic peoples who created them thousands of years ago.

Please contact the gallery for more information.

TEFAF 2015

Click on the cover above to download a pdf of the catalogue (9.1MB)