ABSTRACT

In this final chapter, the main discussion points are brought together into a holistic and nuanced view of weapons and their multifaceted and evolving roles within late Shang society. I argue that rather than primarily symbolizing military ranks, status, or power, weapons, as implements of war and punishment, permeated Shang society and were institutionalized and socially structured. Weapons were strategic tools in pursuing and maintaining power. I demonstrate the effectiveness of adopting a bottom-up approach to reveal weapons’ life trajectories, their interactions with the human, materials, and spirit worlds, and how they acquired their status, countering both traditional conceptions and modern assumptions. I then evaluate my tailored and reflexive application of an object biography framework, conceptualizing multiple nested levels to analyse the weapons for this research and its implications for wider Chinese material culture studies. Recommendations for future research are offered.