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This was true of normal as well as extra complex identificational graphs, such as the hǔ 虎 "tiger" clan emblem at right, which was turned 90 degrees clockwise on its bronze.These inscriptions are almost all cast (as opposed to engraved), A few Shang inscriptions have been found which were brush-written on pottery, stone, jade or bone artifacts, and there are also some bone engravings on non-divination matters written in a complex, highly pictographic style; The soft clay of the piece-molds used to produce the Shang to early Zhou bronzes was suitable for preserving most of the complexity of the brush-written characters on such books and other media, whereas the hard, bony surface of the oracle bones was difficult to engrave, spurring significant simplification and conversion to rectilinearity.Western Zhou dynasty characters (as exemplified by bronze inscriptions of that time) basically continue from the Shang writing system; that is, early W.Zhou forms resemble Shang bronze forms (both such as clan names, and typical writing), without any clear or sudden distinction.By the mid to late Spring and Autumn period, artistic derivative scripts with vertically elongated forms appeared on bronzes, especially in the eastern and southern states, and remained in use into the Warring States period (see detail of inscription from the Warring States Tomb of Marquis Yĭ of Zēng below left).In the same areas, in the late Spring and Autumn to early Warring States, scripts which embellished basic structures with decorative forms such as birds or worms also appeared.
Furthermore, starting in the Spring and Autumn period, the writing in each region gradually evolved in different directions, such that the script styles in the Warring States of Chu, Qin and the eastern regions, for instance, were strikingly divergent. The inscription commemorates a gift of cowrie shells to its owner. In general, characters on ancient Chinese bronze inscriptions were arranged in vertical columns, written top to bottom, in a fashion thought to have been influenced by bamboo books, which are believed to have been the main medium for writing in the Shang and Zhou dynasties.
Furthermore, some of the characters on the Shang bronzes may have been more complex than normal due to particularly conservative usage in this ritual medium, or when recording identificational inscriptions (clan or personal names); some scholars instead attribute this to purely decorative considerations.
Shang bronze script may thus be considered a formal script, similar to but sometimes even more complex than the unattested daily Shang script on bamboo and wood books and other media, yet far more complex than the Shang script on the oracle bones.
It is thought that these reflected the popular (vulgar) writing of the time which coexisted with the formal script.
and minted bronze coins from this period are also numerous.