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A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF POTTERY DRUMS IN PREHISTORIC CHINA

Fei Lingya  
The pottery drum is a common type of object in prehistoric Chinese archaeology. Previously,owing to the lack of due understanding,it was often mixed up with other artifacts,and monographic studies in this respect were still rarer. The emergence of the pottery drum was closely concerned with the rise of Chinese ritual culture. "Ritual" was a distinctive cultural phenomenon in ancient Chinese society. The ritual culture permeated ancient Chinese society all along and formed the core of ancient Chinese culture. The present paper discusses,first of all,the appellation and character of prehistoric pottery drums,as well as their qualitative standards in the light of literal records and previous research results. Then,based on their provenance,the author divides the available pottery drums into four regions,i.e. the Liaohe River,Yellow River,Huaihe River and Yangtze River valleys,and makes a typological study of pottery drums region by region. An integrated study is carried out to deal with the name,use,rise,evolution and diffusion of prehistoric pottery drums and the relationship of the pottery drum cultural circle with the ethno-cultural circle. The results indicate that the pottery drum made its first appearance in the Huaihe River valley in the Beixin Culture period and that every group of pottery drums prevailing in those river valleys had its own cultural tradition. In the Yangshao Culture period,pottery drums went through their prosperity,and mutual action and influence took place between various regions during the evolutionary course of pottery drums. In the Longshan Culture age,pottery drums fell down sharply and were divided into five pottery drum cultural circles independent of and exerted influence upon each other,which corresponded to the Hongshan,Majiayao,Yangshao,Dawenkou and Qujialing cultures respectively. In geographical distribution,they coincided roughly with the Huaxia,Dongyi,Xirong,Beidi and Nanman ethno-cultural circles. The present study reveals the important position of drums in the ritual culture of ancient China. It also shows the great significance of the primitive ritual culture represented by the prehistoric Chinese pottery drum to researching into the origin and evolution of ritual culture as well as the course of civilization in ancient Chinese society.
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