A large bronze ritual pouring vessel, yi, Western Zhou dynasty, 9th-8th century BC

Lot 1511. A large bronze ritual pouring vessel, yi, Western Zhou dynasty, 9th-8th century BC, 13 5/8 in. (34.5 cm.) long. Estimate USD 120,000 - USD 180,000Price realised USD 146,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2012 

Raised on four flat legs cast as compressed dragons with clawed feet, the sides horizontally ribbed below a band of angular scroll flat-cast below the rim, the loop handle formed by the arched body of a horned dragon biting the rim in its jaws, with a fifteen-character inscription cast in the bottom of the interior, with mottled patina and some pale azurite encrustation on the interior, cloth stand 

Provenance: Mathias Komor, New York, 1956. 

NoteThe yi was a water vessel that was often used in conjunction with a pan for the ritual washing of hands, which is confirmed by the two having been found together in tombs, usually with the yi in the pan. It was a late Western Zhou adaptation of the gong and the he, and continued into the Eastern Zhou period.

yi of similar proportions and raised on four similar flat dragon-form legs, but of smaller size (26.5 cm. long) and cast below the rim with a band of stylized dragons as opposed to the angular scroll seen on the current vessel, is in the Shanghai Museum and illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji - 6 - Xi Zhou (2), Beijing, 1997, p. 143, no. 147, where it is dated late Western Zhou.

The inscription cast on the interior of the present yi may be translated, '[] [] of the Fu Family made this precious object. Their descendents for the next ten thousand years will cherish and enjoy it forever.'  

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