A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty

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Lot 8094
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu
Late Shang dynasty

Sold for US$ 329,000 inc. premium

Chinese Works of Art

14 Mar 2016, 11:00 EDT

New York

PROPERTY FROM VARIOUS OWNERS
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu
Late Shang dynasty
The deep bowl finely cast with a band of raised studded bosses above a fine diamond diaper ground, beneath a border comprised of three evenly-spaced animal heads interspersed by archaistic dragon scrolls at neck, the gently splayed foot exhibiting a further three taotie reserved on a leiwen ground, the interior cast with an archaic character Shi.
9 3/4in (24.6cm) diameter

Footnotes

  • 商代晚期 青銅乳釘雷紋史簋(盂)

    Provenance 來源:
    A San Francisco Bay family; according to the family, the vessel was brought to the United States in the 1930's by the father of the present owner.
    三藩市海灣家族舊藏;於1930年代由現藏家父親帶入美國。

    He Jingcheng in his thesis Shang dai shi zu yan jiu (Research on the Shi family of the Shang Dynasty), published in Huaxia Archaeology, vol.2, Henan, 2007, identified the Shi family as an important clan during the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties, and members of the family were settled in widespread regions across central China. Archaic bronzes with inscription of the family were mostly found in Tengzhou and Sishui in Shandong province, while some scattered were found in Baoji and Yaoxian, Shaanxi, also in Anyang, Henan.

    Yu archaic bronze food vessels were popular during the late Shang dynasty in the Yinxu Period, circa 13th – 11th centuries BC, and are formed as a round bowl raised by a ringed foot. Unlike the gui food vessel which was prevalent during the succeeding Western Zhou dynasty, yu do not have ringed handles. These were used for making offering of grains and vegetables in ancestral rituals, often accompanied by the tripod ding vessel used for cooking meats.

    The striking combination of diamond cartouches and boss decoration, as seen on the present lot, appear to have been particularly admired and used on various shaped vessels in Shaanxi province during the Yinxu or Anyang period. Excavated examples are illustrated and discussed by R. Bagley, Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Washington, 1987, pp.504-507, no.98, and pp.510-14, nos.100 and 101. It is evident a wide variety of decorative elements, of different designs and in various levels of relief, were used to demonstrate the high level of casting and skillful techniques bronze craftsmen at Shang foundries achieved by this period. The present lot with a narrow band of zoomorphic dragon or bird like motifs, on an intricate leiwen ground, interspersed by raised animal masks, is a fine example of this. A comparable yu, with very similar zoomorphic motifs below the mouth rim is illustrated in Zhongguo qingtongqi quanji, vol.4, Beijing, 2006, p.32, no.32. Another yu with a very similar band of animal heads and zoomorphic designs, formerly in the Collection of Dr. A. F. Philips, was sold at Sotheby's New York, 22 March 2011, lot 14. Interestingly the diamond cartouches on the present yu are squarer in shape than most pieces of this type. Compare vessels also with squarer form diamonds, but less uniformed and crisp, illustrated in ibid., p.33, no.33, and Zhongguo qingtong quanji vol.2, Beijing, 2006, p.93, no. 91.

    Bronze ritual vessels like the present lot, with high quality casting and a pictogram, were extremely prized and reflect the importance of ancestral worship. Pictograms cast on such vessels usually indicate the individual who commissioned it.

    Compare a yu of similar shape with a flaring mouth rim, cast pictograms, but with different decorative bands, sold at Sotheby's New York, 11 September 2012, lot 95. Another comparable example without a pictogram was sold at Christie's New York, 16 September 2010, lot 2508.

    器高身,敞口,口沿外侈,腹壁微斂,底承高圈足,圈微撇,上窄下闊。整器紋飾分三層而飾。器口沿下飾鳥紋一周,以雲雷紋作地,並間以兩浮雕獸首。鳥紋下方為主體器腹,飾以斜菱格乳釘紋,菱格內雷紋填地。圈足則飾一周三組獸面紋,中有淺扉棱作獸面鼻樑,左右以雲雷紋相襯。器內壁底部刻有一「史」字銘文。整齊紋飾佈局清晰,工藝考究,泛綠銅鏽更添古意。

    西方學者在其學術傳承中常稱這種敞口、無耳的銅簋為盂。簋是青銅彝器組合中重要的類型,始見於商代,至西周時期依然流行,是在饗宴及祭祀時使用作盛放熟食的器皿,通常與鼎同時使用。

    「史」是商代晚期至西周早期的重要大族,而現知的史族銅器分佈範圍廣泛,主要出於山東滕州市及泗水縣,其餘散見於河南安陽以及陝西寶雞、耀縣等地。現在根據甲骨文、青銅器銘文中有關史族的資料,結合文獻中薛國的記載,基本認為,「史」就是商代薛國的族氏銘文,史氏即殷周之薛侯,史氏司天文,主要為戰爭進行祭禱,也有軍事職守。見何景成,「商代史族研究」,刊登於《華夏考古》,河南,2007年2期。

    此器紋飾組合較為特殊,類似使用斜菱格雲雷紋及乳釘紋組合的紋飾,在陝西省出土的殷墟或安陽時期不同器物上也有所見,詳例可見R.Bagley,《Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections》,華盛頓,1987年,頁504-507,圖98及頁510-514,圖100及101。另見1971年山西右玉大川出土一件商代晚期乳釘雷紋簋,現藏於右玉縣博物館,除多出一周凸出火紋外,其他紋飾均與本拍品如出一轍,見《中國青銅器全集:商4》,北京,2006年,頁32,圖32。

    傳世品中的例子,見A.F.Philips博士舊藏一件類似的青銅盂,後售於紐約蘇富比,2011年3月22日,編號14。另見紐約蘇富比曾售出另一件紋飾稍有不同的青銅盂,2012年9月11日,編號95,以及紐約佳士得售出一件紋飾異樣的青銅盂,2010年9月16日,編號2508。
Contacts
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
A rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Shi yu  Late Shang dynasty
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