Saturday, June 01, 2013

History Hop - Warring States China - 475BC to 221BC

I'm participating in Beady Eyed Bunny's "History Hop" this weekend.  Each of us is to pick a country and period in history, do some research and then create a piece of jewellery around that research.

I decided I needed a bit of a stretch, so picked China as my country from the list that Beady Eyed Bunny gave, then picked the Warring States period, manly so I could make beads with lots of dots on them!  The Warring States period is known for a specific style of beads, often used as inspiration by modern beadmakers, and is known for layers of dots, often referred to as horns.  I took a class with Larry Brickman several years ago, who introduced me to the style, and since I hadn't used the technique in a while, I thought this would be perfect.

Lets go back to the Warring States period.  It was a period of significant conflict, leading to the conquering and consolidation of seven states of China into the Qin dynasty.  Significant advancements in the art of warfare, including the invention of the crossbow and advancements in ironworking, are likely to have happened during this period.  Because of the amount of conflict and change, advancements in schools of thought, including the rise of Confucianism and Taoism, were thought to be the "golden age" of Chinese philosophical thinking, and this period is included in the time that the Hundred Schools of Thought existed.

In my work, I tried to capture some of these elements in the necklace that I made - this was one of the first periods in Chinese history where mass production was used to arm soldiers in conflict.  This made outfitting an army much easier, and so the scale of military campaigns was greater than in any period before.  I represented this through the repeating elements of small turquoise circles, which would have been time consuming to reproduce by hand, but much easier with mechanical assistance.  I incorporated the "free thinking" aspects of the period into the bold and unusual colour scheme - I don't normally work with turquoise, or orange or green, but they seem to have worked out well in this piece.

My research into jewellery or elements that would have existed around this time uncovered two trends - one was the Warring States style beads, which are easily identifiable by the layers of dots incorporated.   Because of this, they are also known as "Dragon Eye Beads".   The Warring States period was one of the first periods in Chinese history to start creating glass jewellery, although techniques were thought to have been adopted from Europe.  The other trend was to make monochrome funeral objects out of glass, using glass to represent the more expensive and harder to work with material of jade.

To incorporate these trends, I decided to make a disk in the Warring States style at the bottom of the necklace.  This is then hung from cord, and attached with another Warring States style bead to the main necklace with a small bail.   For the main necklace, I decided that I really liked a technique that I used in my "Bead Soup Blog Party" work, which uses a right angle weave technique to set disks flat.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to find the right stringing material - too stiff, and the work wouldn't hand properly; too weak, and the material wouldn't support the stone and glass that is incorporated.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the work - it's a large departure for me from the colours and materials that I usually use, but it's nice to step out of the box once in a while!  I look forward to seeing what everyone else has made!

If you'd like to visit others on this hop, the list of participants is as follows:

Leah Curtis - Indus Valley -
Laney Mead - Māori -
Becca - Art Nouveau -
Melissa - English Romanticism and Mourning Jewelry -
Tracy Stillman - Native American -
Gerda - English Romanticism and Mourning Jewelry -
Liz E - Native North American -
Ahowin - Māori (New Zealand)  - 
Jasvanti - Indus Valley -
Lizzie - Art Nouveau -
Julia Hay - Merovingian -
Dini - Celtic -
Caroline - Art Nouveau - 
Charlie - Moche of Peru -
Karin - China -
Niky Sayers - Rome -
Marcia Dunne - Celctic and Mourning Jewelry -
anafiassa - Mesopotamia -
Kokopelli - Native American -
Christa - Native American -
Clair - Roman -
Susan Bowie - Native American -
Gloria Allen - English Romanticism -
Sheila Garrett - Early Russia -