In contrast to the West, where diamonds, gold and silver have usually been highly valued, in China bronzes and jades were chosen early on for the society's most valued artefacts, and retained this very high status over millennia. Bronze and jades were used in China for ritual and burial, and were thus associated with the sacred worlds of the ancestors and spirits. In later China, these precious relics of the past were collected by rulers and scholars as routes to understanding a distant golden age. Chinese bronzes, in particular, are one of the world's major art forms. Few if any other ancient cultures achieved the artistic excellence and technical virtuosity in bronze attained in China. This book not only celebrates an important collection, but highlights the extraordinary skills of the craftsmen of very early cultures, placing the objects in their historical and archaeological context.