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Lot 19. A rare archaic bronze ritual tripod vessel, jia, Shang dynasty (c. 1500-1050 BC); 25.3 cm., 9 7/8 in. Sold 54,000 GBP (Estimate 6,000 - 8,000 GBP). © Sotheby's. 

the compressed globular body supported on three tall slender blade feet, cast around the exterior with three separate taotie divided and separated by vertical notched flanges and each formed from detached zoomorphic elements on a tight leiwen ground flanked by 'bird' elements, the waisted neck with a leiwen band and the flat rim set with upright posts surmounted by pyramidal finials, set to one side with a large bovine-mask loop handle, the interior with two complex pictograms.

Provenance: Collection of Dr. A.F. Philips.
Sotheby's London, 30th March 1978, lot 15.
Sotheby's London, 14th November 2000, lot 6.

LiteratureH.F.E. Visser, Asiatic Art in Private Collections in Holland and Belgium, Amsterdam, 1947, pl. 7, no. 8.

The inscription only:
Noel Barnard and Cheung Kwong-Yue, Rubbings and Hand Copies of Bronze inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, European, American, and Australasian Collections, Taipei, 1978, vol. 7, no. 1020

NoteThis inscription consists of two clan signs, the former showing the character ci ('grade' or 'catagory') within the ya-shaped enclosure, the latter depicting a man holding two horses. 

It is rare to find a jia of this bulbous form with such high-relief decoration and with these roof-shaped finials, which are more often seen on fangjia.  Compare two jia of similar form but with the more common flat, linear decoration and waisted finials, illustrated in Zhongguo qingtongqi quanji, vol. 3, Beijing, 1997, pls. 47 and 49, and a rectangular fangjia with related finials, ibid., pl. 58.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works Of Art, London, 15 May 2007