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More than a Game / A LARGE AND RARE BRONZE 'CASH' SIX-TUBED ARROW VASE, TOUHU Yuan/Ming Dynasty

LOT 26
A LARGE AND RARE BRONZE 'CASH' SIX-TUBED ARROW VASE, TOUHU
Yuan/Ming Dynasty
29 mai 2022, 14 h 00 UTC+8
Hong Kong, Admiralty

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A LARGE AND RARE BRONZE 'CASH' SIX-TUBED ARROW VASE, TOUHU

Yuan/Ming Dynasty
The compressed globular body pierced with four coin-shaped motifs divided by projecting flanges, the tall cylindrical neck encircled by six tubular lug handles each cast with characters representing the Six Arts in relief on a leiwen ground, its mid-section similarly pierced with a pair of three overlapping coins between raised bow-strings above pendent cicada blades also around the splayed and stepped foot, the dark reddish-brown patina with some greenish and ochre mottling. 51cm (20 1/8in) high, 8.2kg.

Footnotes

元/明 銅六藝鏤空錢紋投壺

Provenance:
Phillips, London, 16 December 1993
The Brian Harkins Collection

來源:
倫敦富藝斯,1993年12月16日
布萊恩·哈金斯珍藏

Bronze arrow vases cast with the 'six accomplishments' or liuyi are very rare. The six characters cast on the vase refer to the six accomplishments that a Confucian scholar should learn as defined in the chapter 'Baoshi' (保氏Grand Guardian), 'Diguran' (地官 Official of Earth) in the book Zhouli (周禮Zhou rituals) from the Zhou dynasty. They include the five rituals, six types of music, five skills of archery, five skills in steering the chariot, six methods of writing, and the nine methods of arithmetic.

It may seem unusual that a vase used to play a game should be endowed with such serious accomplishments, but scholars in the Song dynasty such as Si Maguang, conceived of the arrow vase as an instrument for cultivating the moral self by introducing the norms of Confucianism into the game. The throwing of arrows into a vase was seen as related to archery - one of the six arts - and was not so much a game to be won or lost, but a vehicle for complex ritual. See a related discussion by Wang Ti, mentioning that the game could revive the spirit of ancient Confucian rituals and bring us joy in Touhu Yijie, Beijing, 1985, pp.3-4.

Playing a game with arrow vases was not a frivolous occasion but a serious and solemn affair involving complex rules and Confucian rituals of behaviour. For example, if play is between two people, they each have a number of arrows; the senior can place his on the ground, something the younger should not do out of deference. If the junior wins the game, he cannot ask the senior player to kneel, but expect him only to raise his wine cup. If the senior drinks, it has to be from a rhinoceros horn cup, but the younger can only use a jue etc. In this way, the game is more concerned with Confucian ritual and etiquette than winning or losing. See G.Tsang and H.Moss, Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, p.268.

壺口一周鑄六貫耳,每耳正中鑄一字,分別為六藝:禮、樂、射、御、書、數,雷紋為地,頸部分三段,以圓棱一周分隔,上段光素,中間前後穿孔鏤空,下端飾仿古蕉葉紋,圓鼓腹,出四戟,戟矮平而闊,兩戟穿銅錢形孔,束腰飾蕉葉紋,圈足分兩層。

貫耳所鑄六藝為古代儒生必修之六門技藝,可脫胎於西周貴族教育之六門科目,即《周禮·地官·保氏》所謂:「養國子以道,乃教之六藝:一曰五禮、二曰六樂、三曰五射、四曰五御、五曰六書、六曰九數」。其中禮分五禮(吉、凶、賓、軍、嘉);樂分六樂(雲門、大咸、大韶、大夏、大鑊、大武);射分五射(白矢、參連、剡注、襄尺、井儀);御有五御(鳴和鸞、逐水曲、過君表、舞交衢、逐禽左),書有六書(象形、指事、會意、形聲、轉注、假借)、數有九數(方田、粟米、差分、少廣、商功、均輸、方程、盈不足、旁要)。

宋儒如司馬光將儒家規範引入投壺遊戲之後,投壺從單純遊戲脫演成為儒家修身的道器。明代汪禔在《投壺儀節》中言投壺可另諸生倦暇時「暢精神,蕩血脈」,乃復古之一端,見明汪禔撰,《投壺儀節》,北京,1985年,頁3-4。

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