Lot 2035A bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Late Shang dynasty, 12th-11th century BC; 11¾ in. (30 cm.) highEstimate USD 50,000 - USD 70,000. Price Realized USD 62,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2014. 

The trumpet-shaped neck is cast in low relief with leiwen-filled blades rising from a band of serpents with hatchured bodies, and the middle section with two taotie masks divided and separated by notched flanges, which are repeated on the spreading foot where they divide and separate a pair of confronted dragons in a narrow band above two large taotie masks. The decorative elements are filled with leiwen and are reserved on similar leiwen grounds. The vessel has a milky grey-green patina and areas of malachite encrustation. A single graph, zi, son, is cast on the interior of the foot, Japanese wood box.

Provenance: Mayuyama, Tokyo, Japan, acquired prior to 2000.

NoteThis finely cast gu is associated with the 'mature' style of gu from Anyang (late 13th to early 12th century BC), which all exhibit the same distinctive structure and the same decorative sequence of motifs.
Two bronze gu with very similar cast decoration, but incorporating inverted taotie masks set within the blades on the neck, are illustrated by R.W. Bagley in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1987, pp. 248-53, nos. 36 and 37.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 20 - 21 March 2014