A rare archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, zun  Early Western Zhou Dynasty, Circa BC 1050-900
Lot 251*
A rare archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, zun Early Western Zhou Dynasty, circa 1050-900BC
Sold for £120,000 (US$ 199,425) inc. premium
Auction Details
A rare archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, zun  Early Western Zhou Dynasty, Circa BC 1050-900 A rare archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, zun  Early Western Zhou Dynasty, Circa BC 1050-900
Lot Details
A rare archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, zun
Early Western Zhou Dynasty, circa 1050-900BC
The central register well cast with taotie masks composed of stylised dragons and C scrolls, divided by four notched flanges extending from the flared mouthrim to the foot, all between the neck with upright blades enclosing taotie masks composed of detached scrolls, and the foot with further taotie masks above the spreading footrim, all reserved on leiwen ground.
28cm high x 26.5cm wide (11in high x 10½in wide)

Footnotes

  • Provenance: J. Goldstein, Toronto, prior to 1978, reputedly acquired from Frank Crane, The Hundred Antiques, Toronto, in the 1960s
    Thence by descent to E.Sinclair

    Comparable bronze zun vessels of the Early Western Zhou Dynasty can be found in several important museum collections; see a slightly smaller example from the tomb of Yu Bo Ge, excavated at Zhuyuangou M7, Baoji, Shaanxi Province, illustrated by J.Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Volume 2, Washington D.C., 1990, p.31, fig.22b. See also a slightly smaller zun vessel, circa 11th century BC, illustrated by Wang Tao in Chinese Bronzes from the Meiyintang Collection, London 2009, pl.62. Compare a related archaic bronze zun, dated to the late Shang/early Western Zhou Dynasty, 12th-11th century BC, sold at Christie's London, 15 November 2000, lot 91.

    Observations on the Sinclair Collection of Early Chinese Bronze Vessels

    Dr. Wang Tao
    Senior Lecturer, Chinese Archaeology, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

    Zun

    Like the name yi, zun 尊is also a generic name for bronze wine vessels. It is written as a pictograph in oracle bone and bronze inscriptions, and depicts two hands holding a wine jar. The Zhouli 周禮lists zun together with yi as the main sacrificial vessels. This explains why the Song scholars began to use the name indiscriminately for a number of different vessels, including gu, zhi, hu, and lei. But, archaeologists use it only for a particular type of wine container. The zun category covers two distinguishable types: one has an angular shoulder and a trumpet-shaped mouth; the other is in the shape of a tall vase. The name zun is also used for wine vessels in the forms of animals.

    The vase-shaped zun was popular during the Yinxu and Early Western Zhou period, and the Sinclair example belongs to this category. This bronze vessel shows a number of features of the 'transitional' style. It is tall, with a convex body and moulded foot; the body is further divided by four vertical heavy hooked flanges. The well defined taotie mask appears in relief on the middle and lower body, against the background of fine spirals. Similar examples are found in a number of museum collections.
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