Lot 1509. A copper-inlaid bronze ritual tripod pouring vessel, he, Warring States period (475-221 BC); 11 ½ in. (29.1 cm.) long. Estimate USD 80,000 - USD 120,000. Price realised USD 187,500© Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

The vessel is cast in relief with three bands of confronted birds, the body of one inverted, bordered by narrow, copper-inlaid bands of continuous scrolls, and is supported on three legs, each in the form of a bird with spread wings perched on the shoulders of a crouching humanoid figure. The forequarters of a bird with hinged beak forms the spout on one side opposite its tail projecting from the other side. The cover has a monkey-form finial connected by a chain to the arched handle formed as the body of a feline-like animal.

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, 1991.

NoteHe of this shape were made in different styles, some with more elaborate features than others. This he belongs to the group which used exotic and fanciful elements as decoration. Jenny So in Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. III, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Washington D.C., 1995, p. 409, discusses the differences of he made in the north and the south during the Eastern Zhou period, and notes that those from the south have more elaborate decoration than those from the north. So illustrates a number of he, pp. 410-11, figs. 84.2-84.5, that demonstrate the differences in decoration, one of which is the example from the Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, p. 411, fig. 84.3, which is dated 5th or 4th century BC. The Buckingham vessel is very similar to the present he, except for the main bands of decoration, which differ from the very rare design of repeated pairs of confronted birds seen on the present vessel, in which the body of the bird on the left is inverted. The Buckingham he is also illustrated by Charles F. Kelley and Ch'en Meng-chia in Chinese Bronzes from the Buckingham Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1946, pp. 109-11, pl. LXII.

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