Leopold and Jane Swergold.


Lot 3182. A bronze ritual food vessel, gui, Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 11th century BC, the inscription later; 11 in. (28 cm.) across the handlesEstimate $60,000 - $80,000Price realised $93,750. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The body is horizontally grooved below a band of dissolved dragons confronted on abstract taotie masks, which is repeated on the cover below a shallow groove encircling the circular, collared handle, which is pierced on two sides, and acts as a pedestal foot when the cover is inverted. The body is applied with a pair of animal-head handles with coiled horns suspending loose rings which flank the incurved rim, and is raised on three paw supports issuing from animal heads that join the supports to the ring foot. The mottled patina is of yellowish-green color.

Provenance: James Sachs Plaut (1912-1996), Beijing, 1937.
Falk Collection, New York, no. 525, acquired before 1940.
The Falk Collection I: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie's New York, 20 September 2001, lot 167.

Literature: K. Liduff, Tradition, Phase and Style of Shang and Chou Bronze Vessels, New York and London, 1979, pl. 21.

ExhibitedNeolithic to Ming, Chinese Objects - The Myron S. Falk Collection, Northampton, Massachusetts, Smith College Museum of Art, 1957, no. 6.
Arts of the Chou Dynasty, Palo Alto, California, Stanford University Museum, 1958, no. 43.
Ritual Vessels of Bronze Age China, New York, Asia House Gallery, The Asia Society, 1968, no. 60.
Ancient Chinese Bronzes, New York, China House Gallery, China Institute in America, 1991, no. 19.

NoteCompare the present piece to a gui of this type illustrated by J. Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington DC, 1990, vol. IIB, no. 56, and an excavated example, the Wang Chen gui from Shaanxi, Chengcheng Xian, dated Middle to late Western Zhou, fig. 56.7, which has the same profile and handles, but a ribbed rather than grooved body. The Sackler vessel, dated to late Western Zhou, has a similarly grooved body and decorative bands on the body, cover and ring base, but the handles are of C-scroll form issuing from animal masks with short snouts, projecting tusks, and flat ears, mirroring the ears of the taotie masks around the foot ring. Compare, also, a gui of similar proportions and with fluted sides, but without the grooved scrolls and eyes on the base and cover, illustrated in Important Inscribed Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels from the Li Yingshuan Collection, The Shanghai Museum, 1996, p. 81. no. 32.


Lot 3183. A bronze ritual pouring vessel, yi, Early Eastern Zhou dynasty, 8th-7th century BC; 10 ¼ in. (26 cm.) long. Estimate $60,000 - $80,000Price realised $68,750. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The vessel is raised on four flat scrolled dragon supports and is cast with a band of interlaced dragon scroll below the rim. The loop handle is formed by the arched body of a dragon with its mouth biting the rim and its head surmounted by two confronted dragons with truncated bodies. The surface exhibits pale green encrustation.

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong, July 1999.
Christie's New York, 21 September 2000, lot 167.

NoteThe yi was a water vessel that was used in conjunction with a pan for the ritual washing of hands. It was a late Western Zhou adaptation of the gong or the he, and continued into the Eastern Zhou period.

Of the similar yi published, none appears to have plain sides below the band of interlaced dragon scroll and none appears to have as intricate a dragon head terminal on the handle as does the present example. See the similar related yi decorated with a band of interlaced dragon scroll above ribbed sides excavated at Luoshan, Henan province, illustrated in Wenwu, 1980:1, pp. 51-2, fig. 2; and another illustrated by B. Karlgren, 'Yin and Chou in Chinese Bronzes', B.M.F.E.A., No. 8, Stockholm, 1936, pl. XLV, C 39.


Lot 3184. A rare bronze two-part steamer, yan, Western Zhou dynasty (1100-771 BC)14 ¼ in. (35.9 cm.) highEstimate $60,000 - $80,000Price realised $68,750. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The lower tripod bowl is of li shape and is raised on three legs. It is decorated with taotie masks and applied with two arched handles. The upper bowl has a flaring rim and two free-standing dragon handles, and the interior base is perforated with cruciform steam vents. Each section is decorated below the rim with a shallow-relief band of scrolling birds on a leiwen ground, and has heavy areas of malachite encrustation.

Provenance: The Ervika Foundation, Inc.; Christie's New York, 16 September 1998, lot 272.

Note: Two-part steamers are rare, and no other example of this particular shape appears to have been published. Compare the example illustrated in the Shanghai Museum Ancient Chinese Bronze Gallery Catalogue, p. 24, dated Late Western Zhou. Compare, also, the yan, but with integral upper and lower parts, illustrated by Jessica Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington DC, 1990, vol. II B, pp. 335-43, figs. 31-33.


Lot 3185. A large bronze bell, bo, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC); 15 7/8 in. (40.3 cm.) highEstimate $50,000 - $70,000Price realised $62,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The heavily cast bell is of oval section and is decorated on each side with a plain, central, vertical panel dividing two quadrangular panels outlined by raised thin borders, each enclosing three horizontal rows of three rounded bosses decorated with whorl motifs, and dividing bands of dense overlapping scroll motifs interspersed with small knobs. The latter pattern is repeated in a wide band above the mouth, and on the flat top below the 'A'-shaped loop handle, which is decorated with shell motifs. The silvery grey bronze shows an uneven patination, with areas of bright malachite-green and azurite-blue encrustation on the surface, stand.

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong, 1999.
J. J. Lally & Co., New York, August 2001.

LiteratureAncient China: Music & Ritual, J.J. Lally & Co., New York, 2001, no. 5.

ExhibitedAncient China: Music & Ritual, J.J. Lally & Co., New York, 20 March - 7 April 2001, no. 5.

Note: Compare a smaller, very similarly-decorated bell, but with dragon-form handle, in the St. Louis Art Museum, illustrated by George W. Weber, Jr. in The Ornaments of Late Chou Bronzes, A Method of Analysis, New Jersey, 1973, pl. 50, p. 242, and a related, yet smaller, bell from the Pillsbury Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Art, pl. 49.


Lot 3186. A bronze ritual cooking vessel and cover, dun, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770-256 BC); 7 7/8 in. (20 cm.) highEstimate $20,000 - $30,000Price realised $35,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

The bulbous vessel and the cover are cast in mirror image so that the cover, when inverted, can be used as a bowl. Both are flat-cast with two different bands of a repeating pattern of intertwined serpents on a granular ground, and the slightly recessed bands at the rims are also decorated, as are the faceted loop handles. The spreading ring surmounting the cover is centered by a flower head encircled by three further serpents with split and entwined bodies. There is light encrustation in the interior and on the exterior.

ProvenanceAcquired in New York, October 1999.
Christie's New York, 21 March 2000, lot 177.

NoteCompare the dun of similar rare form and slightly smaller size (6¼ in. high) cast with bands of different interlocked dragon decoration in the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, illustrated by G.W. Weber, Jr. in The Ornaments of Late Chou Bronzes, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 1973, pp. 184-5, pl. 32.


Lot 3187. Two bronze ritual wine flasks and covers, bianhu, Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220); 11 ¼ and 11 3/8 in. (28.5 and 29.5 cm.) highEstimate $5,000 - $7,000Price realised $6,250. © Christie's Image Ltd 2015.

Both flasks are of flattened oval form, with the curve of the sides accentuated by shallow recessed panels that flank the pair of loop and loose ring handles on the narrow sides. One is raised on a spreading rectangular foot, and the other on an oval foot. Both of the slightly domed covers have a band of chilong scroll encircling the small loop finials. Both vessels have mottled olive-brown and green encrustation.

ProvenanceAcquired in New York, 1996.

NoteA similar bianhu from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections was sold at Christie's New York, 19 - 20 September 2013, lot 1480


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