As early as 6,000 B.C, during the New-stone Age Culture period, the potter-works for drinking were similar to those of the later times appearing, such as the potter-works of Peiligang Culture Age. The pottery of Hemudu Culture Age in South China reminds us of thinking of the drinking vessels of Shang Dynasty which enjoyed a long history. As the brewing industry developed, due to the drinkers who all enjoyed higher positions in society, there existed a possibility that the drinking vessels separated from common eating containers.
The superior or inferior quality of the drinking vessels symbolized the drinker's position in society. Then appeared special drinking vessel makers. At present, in a Dawenkou Culture Age Tomb in Shangdong Province, a large quantity of vessels for brewing the alcoholic drink were dug up. According to archaeologists' explanation, the dead person was probably a professional drinking vessel maker. During the later period of the New-stone Age, Long- shan Culture Age was especially typical of having big number of drinking vessels and their various uses which have much similarity to those of later times. They include jars, urns, pots, bowls and cups. There are different sorts of drinking cups such as the flat-bottomed cup, the curved- legged cup, the high-curved-legged cup, the high-handled cup, the sloping-wall cup , s-shape bellied cups and other shaped cups..
During shang Dynasty, the technique of making bronze wares had been greatly improved because of the development of brewing industry and the variety and shapes and designs of drinking vessels developed to a never-reached-before level. Among the trades that time appeared "Changshao Clan" and "Weishao Clan" that lived by specially making drinking vessels. Although drinking in Zhou Dynasty was not so popular as that in Shang Dynasty, the styles and crafts of making drinking vessels in general followed those of Shang Dynasty. In Zhou Dynasty, there existed craftsmen who specially made drinking vessels. Bronze-wares originated from Xia Dynasty. The earliest bronze drinking vessels having been discovered till now were the Jue ( See Picture 5 ) of Erlitou Culture Age of Xia Dynasty, and the making of Bronze-wares developed to the highest level during Shang and Zhou Dynasties and declined during the Autumn-and-Spring Age. The drinking vessels of Shang and Zhou Dynasties enjoyed an exclusive use. Based on 《 Generalization of Bronze wares on Yin and Zhou Dynasties 》, the bronze-wares of Shang and Zhou Dynasties can be divided into the boiling-drink vessel, containing-drink vessel, drinking vessel and storing-drink vessel. Besides them, there was the bronze-ware as a gift. All were made in various shapes and designs. But the main shapes have the designs of Jue and Gu (a kind of goblet ) as well as Jia. Even if it was the same drinking vessel, it carried different traces and marks of different historical ages in design and shape..
The containing-drink vessel is a kind of vessel used as holding alcoholic drinks for later use. It has many types, chiefly including the following:.
Zun, Pot, Qu, Min, Jian, Hu, Gong, Weng Bu and Li ( All are pronounced in Chinese Pinyin ).
Each sort of drinking vessels has various shapes, some are commonly shaped, some are in shapes of animals, Lets take Zun as an example, it was designed in a shape of elephant, or rhinoceros, or ox, or goat or tiger etc..
The drinking vessels mainly includes Gu, Zhi, Jue, Jiao, Cup and Zhou. People sharing different positions and ranks used different drinking vessels, which was clearly stated in 《Li Ji . Li Qi》 that the senior used Zhi and the Junior used Jiao when drinking during the memorial ceremony of ancestral temple..
A heating-drink vessel was a kind of container used to heat the alcoholic drink before having it with a long-handled spoon which made it easy to take out the alcoholic. The heating- drink vessel was sometimes named Zun which was rather popular in Han Dynasty..
In Zeng Houyi Tomb of Suizhou, Hubei Province existed a bronze Jian which could be used to store the alcoholic together with ice, so it was called "Ice Jian.".