Permanent Collection

The Ruins of Yin (Late 14th century – Mid 11th century BC)

From 1928 to 1937, the Institute conducted fifteen seasons of excavation of the ruins of Yin. Eleven large tombs, along with more than 1300 small graves, had been discovered on the highlands of Hsi-pei-kang, located on the northern shore of the Huan River. Whereas in the Hsiao-t’un village on the southern shore of the river, three well structured hang-t’u (pounded earth) construction sites were found.
The Museum separates topics of the the ruins of Yin into the “Shang Royal Cemetery at Hsi-pei-kang” and the “Shang Palace and Ancestral Temples at Hsiao-T’un.” Representative of the Hsi-pei-kang site are royal tombs M1550, M1004, M1400 and sacrificial pits M1022, M1005, M1083 and M1435. On the other hand, tomb 331, horse-and-chariot pits M40 and YH127 are among the remains of Hsiao T’un. The exhibition here aims to provide visitors a glance into the funerary rites, the ritual and warfare were intimately tied to political authority, and the structure of the army in the Shang Dynasty.

Niu Fang-ting

This bronze ox cauldron is the largest and heaviest bronze ever found in the archaeological excavations carried out by the Institute at Anyang. It was unearthed at the northern end of the southern corridor of the Royal Tomb M1004, placed together with the bronze deer cauldron. The main decoration on each of the four sides is an ox head in relief. On the two wider sides, there is a standing phoenix on each side of the ox head. On the two narrower sides appear one dragon and one bird on each side of the ox head. There is a band of k'uei-dragon patterns on the upper portion of the vessel. The four legs of the square cauldron are also decorated with ox heads. A pictograph character for niu (ox) is cast on the inner bottom of the vessel.

Lu Fang-ting (Bronze Square Cauldron with a Deer Emblem)

Unearthed together with the Niu Fan-ting, this cauldron is similar in type, but smaller in size. The main decoration on each of the sides is a deer head with a standing bird on each side. A band of k’uei-dragon patterns appears on the upper and lower parts of the vessel. The inscription cast on the bottom of the vessel is a pictographic character for "deer.


The excavation of Royal Tomb M1004 yielded a large number of bronze helmets worn by warriors of the Shang. This example is one of the best-preserved pieces among them. The front is decorated with a horned animal mask. The eyes, ears and snout are all raised from the surface. A round boss can be found on both sides, embellished in the center with a whorl pattern. The top has a tubular holder, possibly used to hold decorative feathers.

Human Mask

This is a realistic human mask with a short, narrow forehead, round chin and wide, flat cheekbones. There is a loop on the top for hanging, and six tubes cast onto the back of the eyes, ears and nose of the mask, indicating that it was not an ordinary mask. Its use is unknown.

Jade Head Ornament

This is an openwork jade carving in the shape of a huang pendant. From the position in which it was found when excavated, it is believed to be a head ornament.

Yu Basin with Revolvable Dragons

Two almost identical items were found. The basin is shaped like a kuei bowl with flared mouth and a pair of cord-shaped handles turning upward. One band of k’uei dragon patterns (two of which form an animal mask) appears on the upper portion of the vessel and the ring foot. The central post inside each vessel is unique; at the top of the post is a flower-shaped ornament with six petals. Extending from the post are four three-dimensional dragons with raised heads.

Jade Decorative Piece of a Crested Human Head

This piece, in the shape of the profile of a human head, can be divided into three sections: neck, head and crown. The features on the face are incised in thread relief. This rare piece is small in size, but is made of fine jade and delicately carved.

White Pottery Jug

Excavated Shang white pottery vessels are rare. Intact pieces are even more rare and exclusively unearthed from the large and medium sized tombs of Phase I and Phase II of the Yin-hsu period. This vessel looks like a lei, but is smaller in size. It has a round lid with mushroom-shaped knob on the top. The surface of the vessel is mainly decorated with grooves and cloud-and-thunder patterns; the knob is also decorated with whorls and the lid with curled dragons. The character “五wu (five)” appears both on the inner side of the lid and on the ring foot.

Stone Bird Figurine

One of this pair of sculptured bird figurines was seriously damaged. The bird figurine appears to have a hooked beak and a high-standing comb. Its eyes are shaped like the character “臣 chen.” The feathers on its wings are carved out as curled clouds while feathers on its breast are like fish scales. Judging by the shape under the belly, they probably were decorative pieces at the two ends of the hanging bar of the frame used for hanging a chime stone.

Jade Dagger-axe with Bronze Tang

The front section of the blade of this dagger-axe was made of jade. The rear section and the tang were made of bronze. It is decorated with animal masks and bird-heads, and inlaid with turquoise.

Tri-sectioned Yu Flask with a Swing Handle

Two sculptured hares are depicted at the point where the handle joins the vessel body. A frog-shaped link lies on the domed lid and joins the handle to the knob of the lid. The lid, handle and link were cast separately then joined together. The vessel can be separated into three sections: the lid, upper and lower part of the vessel body. The upper part, when put upside-down, forms a ku beaker.

Oracle Bone (Turtle Plastron) I-pien 5241

A reshaped turtle carapace. This is a piece of oracle bone mainly concerning rain and the harvesting of crops.

Oracle Bone (Turtle Plastron) Ping-pien 342

This oracle bone dates back to the reign of King Wu Ting. The divination concerned sacrifices as well as the dogs and horses that were sent from different statelets as tributes.

Inscribed Bovid Scapula Chia-pien 3333/3361

Divination concerning the holding of a sacrificial ritual at "I Ching" using three captives from the Ch'iang tribe and ten buffalos.

Oracle Bone (Turtle Plastron) Ping-pien 059

The divination on this plastron concerns cloudy and rainy weather, and lunar eclipses.

Oracle Bone Set Ping-pien 28-31

These two oracle bones date to the reign of King Wu Ting. They were the third and fourth plastronfrom a set. "" was the name of the diviner. The divinations concerned the King's inquiry regarding the coming to Yin of two courtiers. The writings on the reverse side of the bones were the prognostications.

Oracle Bone (Turtle Plastron) Ping-pien 264

This oracle bone dates back to the reign of King Wu Ting. The divination concerned the appropriateness of taking women from the statelet (Dieng).