Home » Archaeology » From Farm Tools to Weapons: Images of Snake Worship on Dian Bronze Artefacts

From Farm Tools to Weapons: Images of Snake Worship on Dian Bronze Artefacts


During the Chinese Bronze Age, the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau (云贵高原) was home to various Baipu (百濮) peoples, such as the Dian (滇), Yelang (夜郎) and Dianyue (滇越), and one of the key characteristics of the Bronze Age artefacts that have been excavated in Yunnan Province is the widespread use of snake imagery. The snake motif  is a recurring theme in Dian art during the Eastern Zhou, Qin and Han Dynasties and can be seen on artefacts excavated from the Shizhaishan (石寨山) tombs in Jinning County (晋宁县), the Lijiashan (李家山) tombs in Jiangchuan County (江川县), the Yangfutou (羊甫头) tombs in Kunming (昆明), the Batatai (八塔台) tombs in Qiujing (曲靖), and other Dian culture burial sites.

Dian artefacts with images of snake worship

Dian artefacts with images of snake worship

Images of snakes can be found on a wide range of Dian artefacts, from farm tools such as axes, adzes, chisels, shovels and hoes to ge dagger-axes, spears, swords, scabbards, daggers and other weapons as well as on ritual instruments (e.g. bronze bells), cowry shell vessels, ceremonial objects, ornaments, and horse harnesses, which suggests that snakes were indeed cherished and worshipped in Dian culture.

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Author’s Note: This is a loose translation of the original article, which can be found here.  Please note that I am not a professional translator or archaeologist so there may be errors in my translation.


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  1. […] From Farm Tools to Weapons: Images of Snake Worship on Dian Bronze Artefacts (chinaheritagewatch.wordpress.com) […]

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