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Tube Tile with Mountain-shaped Geometric Pattern 山形几何纹筒瓦

Tube Tile with Mountain-shaped Geometric Pattern
Yan State of the Warring States Period 475 - 222 BC 战国燕

Pottery tube tiles were used for many different purposes. This one was meant to be visable and decorative. The tile dates to the Warring States period and was found in the area of the Yan State, in what is now modern Beijing and Hebei province.

This pattern is similar to the general group called the Greek key design. The use of geometry in the Greek isles transformed architecture and design around the same time as the Eastern or later Zhou period - the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. The similarities in design could arise from trade and travel between the two regions. Although heavy formal travel wouldn't occur for another 200 years or so, the idea that the east and west were entirely cut off at any time is far fetched. People emigrated from Europe, Africa, and the mid-East to settle the east in the paleolithic age. There is no reason to suppose that they would stop walking for any significant length of time. The real question is the distance walked and whether they made long journeys or short journeys to meet with others who made short journeys. If you have overlapping trade routes of 200 miles or so, and those overlap from Rome to Xi'an and then to Beijing and Nanjing, you get a gradual dissemination of knowledge in both directions.

Another hypothesis could be based on genetic determinism, or evolutionary biology. This would be the idea that human beings would act pretty much the same given certain crowding conditions, availability of resources, and temperature variations. This would posit that the discovery of pottery making was inevitable once people settled and started to raise crops. The need to hold and carry things, coupled with the availability of water and clay would make pottery the next step. The fact that you find finger nail designs in pots in England and in central China during the Neolithic Age is simply a result of similar brains based on the same genetic code.

China Index >> Historical Beijing in Pictures >> Neolithic and Early Dynasty Pottery and Roof Tiles

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Last update: September 2013
© Marilyn Shea, 2013