Among large numbers of Chinese cultural relics, Sanxingdui is considered one of those with the greatest historical and scientific significance.
Masks are an important part of bronze ware. They include man-face masks and vertical-eyed masks with a pair of post-shaped bulging eyes and a pair of fully expanded ears. On their foreheads, a kui-dragon (a special shape) crown was castled. The largest one of the vertical-eyed masks is 65 cm high and 138 cm wide. It is really the King of all masks in the world. It is considered a combination of gods and a human being; this was regarded as the idol of the ancient Shu people.
Animal-face masks are another kind of special structure, with nine types altogether. Animal-face masks have Kui-dragon ears, open mouths and grinning teeth, and look like neither a human being nor any known animal. They were considered a kind of god by ancient people.
The 50 bronze images from the two pits are the nucleus of bronze ware. The faces are almost the same: all with sword-shaped eyebrows, chestnut eyes, towering noses and open mouths; but the hairstyles are different from each other. Some busts are bald, while others wear a crown; some have hair coiled up and some wear hair clasps; but all are lively. So many bronzes are sure to be a collection of worshiped images, representing people of imperial or leading groups. They reflect the character of the ancient Shu society in which gods and humans were considered to be connected each other, and also politics and religion.
The bronze animal sculptures of dragons, snakes, tigers, birds, chicks, are vivid. They reflect the ancient Shu people’s ideology that all things have spirits and show their sincerity to gods. Among them, the sincerity to birds is the core. Birds, such as Canchong, Yufu, Duyu, etc, are the names of several ancient Shu dynasties. Birds were also regarded as the symbol of the sun.
Bronze zun and bronze lei (a special drinking vessel) are the biggest of the bronze wares. In ancient times, Zun and lei were used for wine.
The jade wares include tablets, bi (a jade ring), yuan (a jade ring with a large hole), zhong (a jade ware), and daggers, axes, chisels, axes, knives, swords etc. The guard of honor used many models of tools and weapons. Most of them are jade ceremonial utensils. The jade wares reflect the high artistic level of that time.
The bronze sculptures are unique among Chinese relics. Among them, the large standing man sculpture was called the “head of the wizards”.
It weighs 180 kg. It was composed of two parts: the square base is 90 cm high, the figure 172 cm.
The image wears a tubular crown. There are bracelets round the bare feet. There is a rectangular hole in the back of head. The edges of the crown have animal designs. The image wears three pieces of clothing on which are patterns of dragons, birds and worms. The belt is an imperial symbol. The encircling hands are extremely exaggerated.
The standing man represents such figures as a king and wizard. In ancient people’s minds, he is a combination of god, wizard, and king.
The face of the bronze vertical-eyed mask appears curried, and the section appears U-shaped. It has bushy eyebrows and large eyes, the brow tips rise upward. The eyes are crossed and the eyeballs are extremely exaggerated, bulging forward like a round-post; the muscle was pulled out and attached to the eyebrow like a circle. The eyeballs are hollow. It has square-shaped ears; the upper part expands outward like peaches. The nose is short, and the mouth is large and deep. The mouth corners are lifted upward, as if smiling. There is a square hole in the forehead. The bronze vertical eyed mask the biggest among all the Sanxingdui masks, being 65 cm high and 138 cm wide.
The whole height of the sacred tree is 395 cm with nine branches on the trunk. There were three kinds of fruits on every branch, including peaches. The sacred tree in Sanxingdui symbolizes Fushang and Ruomu, which are considered to be connected with the Heaven and the Earth.
There is a tablet among the unearthed jades from No.2 pit that is 54.5 cm long. It is the most representative cultural object in the Sanxingdui jade wares. Its chief value is that there is full design on it.
Its two sides have the same figure designs, a symmetrical arrangement. Two designs are almost the same, except the lower one is a little short and there were only two figures on it.
Each design is made up of five pictures: in the lower picture, there are two hills and some cloud-air-designs with circles in their centers. They may be the symbol of the sun. There are some unexplained objects like winding hooks between the hills. There is an ivory tablet on each outer edge of the two hills. The teeth-shaped edges are very clear. In the second picture, there are three figures bending down, with vault-like hats. On the hat there is one pot-design. There are two interlined ear ornaments. The figures wear a skirt without sleeves, the two hands encircled, which is taken as a special gesture. The third picture is the geometrical-shaped design. In the fourth picture there are two hills similar to the ones in the first one below. There are some designs like boats between hills. Outside the hills, it seems that a man makes a fist with a thumb pressing against the bend of the hill. In the top picture, there were three figures, whose feet present a special character (two figures stand below). The upper one wears a crown with a pot-design. There are some bell-like ear ornaments. Again, the two make a strange gesture, which is the same as the figure at the bottom.
The design is rarely seen, very precious and full of puzzles. For example: what is the relationship between the bending-down man in the lower picture and the standing man above? Perhaps the lower one is the earth, while the upper is heaven, or the sacrificial relationship.
Gold objects have a special position in the collections of Sanxingdui cultural relics. Among them, gold-scepters and bronze images with gold masks are the most significant ones. They include men wearing gold masks. Besides, there are gold tigers, leaves, belts, tablets, and blocks.
The scepter is 142 cm long and the diameter is 2.3 cm. It weighs 46.3 gm. A strip of gold was beaten first, then wrapped around a wooden stick, and then the gold scepter was made. When it was unearthed, their remained some carbonized wood pits. The most precious point is there are some sculptural designs on the top, which are 46 cm long and include three Groups. On this group near the end, if closed, there are two images that are symmetrical and wear fire-tooth crowns, with triangular eardrums, showing pleasant smiles. The designs of the next two groups are the same. There are two birds in the opposite direction below, two fish back to back above. At the necks of the birds and the heads of the fish, there are arrow-like objects. Someone suggests an arrow shot both the birds and the fish, while others argue that is a spike-shaped object, and then inferred that there was rice planting in agriculture at that time. In the design, the images, fish and birds are closely connected. What did this mean? No one knows. Although some scholars made some interpretation, it isn’t perfect. The designs on the scepter are also a big puzzle among the many puzzles of Sanxingdui.