23 février 2019

A bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Shang dynasty, 13th-12th century BC

A bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Shang dynasty, 13th-12th century BC

Lot 348. A bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Shang dynasty, 13th-12th century BC; 10 13/16 in. (27.5 cm.) high. Estimate USD 25,000 - USD 30,000. Price Realized USD 52,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2008

The trumpet-shaped neck flat cast with a band of upright blades rising from a narrow band of spirals, above two taotie masks with small boss eyes centered on narrow flanges on the rounded center section, the spreading foot cast with a narrow band of S-shaped serpents above a wide band of four dragons with boss eyes and upturned snouts shown facing in the same direction in profile on a leiwen ground, cast with a pictograph on the interior of the foot, with pale milky-green patina, encrustation on the interior.

Provenance: The Estate of Jack and Adele Frost prior to 1986.
Acquired in Los Angeles, c. 1990.

NoteThe single pictograph cast inside the interior of the foot of this gu, usually deciphered as zheng (upright), consists of a rounded square and a pair of footprints. A similar graph appears in a jia illustrated by R.W. Bagley, Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1987, pp. 158-9, no. 5, who mentions that, although the character is usually taken to be the name of a person, clan or place, the excavation of a yu from a burial near Fu Hao's tomb suggests that it was the name of a marquisate. Bagley cites thirteen other published bronzes in public and private collections which bear this pictograph.

A very similar gu is illustrated by Bagley, ibid., pp. 228-9, no. 29. Another similar example excavated from Xibeigang M1550 at Anyang is illustrated by Li Ji and Wan Jiabao, Yinxu chutu qingtong gu xing qi zhi yanjiu(Studies of the Bronze Gu-Beaker), Taiwan, 1964, pl. 34 and p. 87, fig. 29

Christie's. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza


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