A rare bronze ritual rectangular food vessel, fangding. Late  Shang Dynasty, Anyang, 12th-11th Century BCPhoto: Christie's Images Ltd 2012

Raised on four columnar supports cast in intaglio with blades pendent from a scroll band, each side of the vessel cast in low relief with a taotie mask below a band of confronted birds, two pairs on the long sides and one pair on the ends, all reserved on a leiwen ground, with flanges dividing each side and at the corners, with a pair of bail handles rising from the slightly inward-canted rim, one side of the interior cast with a three-character inscription, with dark grey and mottled green patina, 8¾ in. (22.2 cm.) high, 7 1/8 in. (18 cm.) across handles. Estimate $200,000 - $300,000. Price Realized $1,082,500

晚商 安陽時期 青銅饕餮紋方鼎

Provenance: Mathias Komor, New York, 1955.

Notes: The inscription consists of the graph che followed by the characters Fu Xin (Father Xin). A variation of the graph che can be seen incorporated into an inscription cast on a late Shang gu, formerly in the collection of R.D. Minett, which was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 11 March 1965, lot 92. Another variation of this graph can be seen on an early/middle Western Zhou guiillustrated by J. Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington, DC, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990, vol. IIB, pp. 370-1, no. 40, where the graph is combined with another graph to form the character lu, which in ancient Chinese refers to going on a military campaign.

Compare the very similar fangding of slightly larger size (24.4 cm. high) illustrated in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the National Palace Museum Collection, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1998, pp. 560-3, no. 96. See, also, the fangding of slightly smaller size (20.8 cm. high) and with slightly broader proportions, but with similar cast designs on the sides, illustrated by R.W. Bagley in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington DC, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987, pp. 472-5, no. 88, and later sold in these rooms, 25 March 2010, lot 1003. 

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art (Part I), 22 - 23 March 2012, New York, Rockefeller Plaza