A finely cast bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Shang dynasty, Anyang, 12th century BC

Lot 1501. A finely cast bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Shang dynasty, Anyang, 12th century BC, 11½ in. (29.2 cm.) high. Estimate USD 100,000 - USD 150,000Price realised USD 482,500© Christie's Images Ltd 2012

The trumpet-form neck crisply cast with four blades filled with inverted taotie masks and scrolls rising from a band of angular snakes, with two taotie masks divided and separated by narrow notched flanges on the center section and on the spreading foot, those on the foot with prominent brows and set below a band of two pairs of confronted dragons with elephant-like snouts, all reserved on leiwengrounds, with a two-character inscription cast inside the foot, with mottled milky green patina, wood stand, box.

ProvenanceMathias Komor, New York, 1951.

NoteThe inscription cast within the foot of the vessel, zi long, may be literally translated as 'son dragon.'

A bronze gu with very similar cast decoration, but lacking the inverted taotie masks set within the blades on the neck, excavated in 1953 from Tomb 267 in Dasikong, Anyang, Henan province, and now in the National Museum of China, is illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji - 2- Shang (2), Beijing, 1997, p. 118, no. 114. 

Christie'sFine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art (Part I), 22-23 March 2012, New York