An archaic bronze inscribed ritual food vessel, gui Early Western Zhou Period/ Late Shang
Lot 4
An archaic bronze inscribed ritual food vessel, gui Late Shang/early Western Zhou Dynasty
Sold for £108,000 (US$ 169,369) inc. premium

Lot Details
An archaic bronze inscribed ritual food vessel, gui Early Western Zhou Period/ Late Shang
An archaic bronze inscribed ritual food vessel, gui
Late Shang/early Western Zhou Dynasty
Of bombé form, rising from a tall splayed foot to a gently flaring rim flanked by loop handles emerging from the jaws of a horned beast, the sides crisply cast with a wide band of raised bosses against a lozenge ground, bordered on either side by ring-punched bands, all below four pairs of confronted dragons centered on a pair of animal masks below the rim, the foot with a band of confronted dragons, the interior cast with a three-character inscription reading Zuo Bao Gui; together with a copy of the Venice 1954 exhibition catalogue.
29.4cm (11½in) wide. (2).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: found at Luoyang, by repute
    Purchased from Bluett & Sons, London on 15 December 1949 for £650
    Wing Commander Lord Cunliffe, collection no.A63

    Exhibited and Illustrated: Mostra D'Arte Cinese. Exhibition of Chinese Art, Venice, 1954, Catalogue no.27.

    Illustrated: E.E.Bluett, Chinese Works of Art in English Collections. I - Early Jades and Metal-work in the Collection of the Rt. Hon. Lord Cunliffe, Apollo, March 1957, p.84, fig.X.
    W. Watson, Ancient Chinese Bronzes, London, 1977, pl.39b.

    The three-character pictograph seen on the current vessel may be translated as 'made this precious gui'. Compare a gui on a four-legged base from the Sackler collection, similarly cast with raised bosses, and with a three-character inscription which reads 'made this lu gui', illustrated by J. Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Vol.IIB, Massachusetts, 1990, no.40.

    Gui vessels cast with raised bosses, such as the current example, were first produced in the late Shang Period, see a similar example in the Shanghai Museum, illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtong Qitu ji, Beijing, 2005, p.266. J.Rawson also discusses several vessels excavated from Fu Hao's tomb which also bear this decorative design, see J.Rawson,op.cit. 1990, p.378. For a related Early Zhou example, see B.Karlgren and J.Wirgin, Chinese Bronzes. The Natanael Wessén Collection, Stockholm, 1969, pl.6. Another example of this type with raised bosses was sold at Sotheby's New York, 21 September 2006, lot 267.
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