Lot 2037A bronze ritual wine vessel, gu, Late Shang dynasty, 12th-11th century BC; 12 5/8 in. (32 cm.) highEstimate USD 50,000 - USD 70,000. Price Realized USD 185,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2014. 

The trumpet-shaped neck is cast in relief with blades filled with inverted and elongated taotie masks above a narrow band of serpents, and the center section with two taotie masks divided and separated by notched flanges, which are repeated on the spreading foot to divide and separate two pairs of confronted dragons that form a narrow band above two large taotie masks. All of the elements of the decoration are cast with fine leiwen and are on a similar leiwen ground. The vessel has a mottled milky green and dark grey patina and areas of blue-green encrustation, Japanese wood box.

ProvenanceMayuyama, Tokyo, Japan, acquired prior to 2000.

NoteThe proportions and cast decoration of the present gu are very similar to that of lot 2035, however, the blades on the neck of the present vessel incorporate inverted taotie masks while the blades on the neck of lot 2035 are filled with leiwen pattern.

Two bronze gu with very similar cast decoration, including the 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