Lot 1505. A bronze ritual food vessel, gui, Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 11th-10th century BC; 10 ½ in. (26.6 cm.) across handles. Estimate USD 30,000 - USD 50,000. Price realised USD 100,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

The body is cast below the rim with a narrow band of dragons centered on either side by an animal mask in relief and interrupted by handles that issue from animal heads and are cast on the sides with intaglio scrolls above the pendent, hooked tabs. The foot is encircled by a similar dragon band centered on each side by a small flange.

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong, 1992.

Note: The gui is one of the classic vessel shapes that was inherited from the Shang dynasty. Like the ding they were meant to hold food during rituals.

The present gui has the characteristic S-shaped profile. The arrangement of the decoration, i.e. the use of a decorative band below the rim and another encircling the foot while the belly of the bowl remains undecorated, is a type that is seen during the early Western Zhou period. Two gui of early Western Zhou date illustrated by Jessica Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIB, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1990, pp. 410-15, nos. 50 and 51, are also of this type, and have bands of similar dragons below the rim and encircling the similar type of foot, but rather than being reserved on a leiwen ground as on the present vessel, the dragons on the Sackler gui are on an undecorated ground.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 25 September 2020, New York