Lot 3180. A bronze ritual food vessel, gui, Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 11th century BC, the inscription later; 11½ in. (29.2 cm.) wide across handlesEstimate $60,000 - USD 80,000Price realised $149,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The S-curved body is raised on a pedestal foot encircled by a band of four taotie masks formed by pairs of dragons confronted on narrow flanges, and is encircled below the everted rim with a band of four similar taotie masks, the two on the main sides centered by an animal mask cast in relief, the other two centered on the horned animal heads that surmount the handles. A later-added inscription is in the bottom of the interior. The patina is of dark grey color and there is some malachite encrustation, Japanese wood box, wood stand.

Provenance: Acquired in Kansai, Japan in the 1940s, and thence by descent within the family.

NoteCompare the similar gui, also dated early Western Zhou, illustrated by J. Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIB, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1990, p. 385, fig. 43.1. Another similar gui with a short inscription, previously illustrated by Shang Chengzuo in Shi er jia jijin tulu, Nanjing, 1935, ju 7a, inscription ju 8a, is also illustrated, p. 385, fig. 43.1, which the author describes as having a more substantial ring foot, which is similar to that of the present gui, and which he goes on to describe as "a feature apparently fashionable in the early stages of Western Zhou."

Christie's. FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART, 15 - 16 March 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza