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Lot 26. A pair of archaic bronze square wine vessels, fang hu, Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD); 16 1/2in (41.8cm) high; 8 7/16in (21.5cm) wide (2)Sold for US$15,300 (Estimate US$2,000 - 3,000). © Bonhams 2001-2023

Each in pear-shaped silhouette raised on square high foot, the mouth flaring slightly with a raised border, cast on the shoulders a pair of taotie masks and suspended ring handles, the surface showing golden-tan colors of uncorroded bronze interspersed with malachite and earth encrustations.

Note: Compare the similar bronze fang hu discovered in 1996 from a Western Han tomb at Chaohu, Anhui province, illustrated in the excavation report Han Burials in Chaohu, Beijing, 2007, col. pl. 5-3 and 5-4, with description on p. 27 and a line drawing on p. 28. Two other bronze fang hu discovered in 1997 at the same Chaohu cemetery are also illustrated in the excavation report, op. cit., col. pl. 45-5, with description on p. 99 and a line drawing on p. 98.

A similar bronze fang hu and cover excavated in 1983 from the tomb of the second king of Nanyue (d. approx. 122 B.C.) in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, is illustrated in the excavation report, Nanyue King's Tomb of the Western Han, Beijing, 1991, pl. 16-2 in Vol. II, with description in Vol. I, p. 47 and a line drawing on p. 49.

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Lot 29bronze figural panel for a 'money tree'Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD); 7 1/2in (19cm) high. Sold for US$44,475 (Estimate US$1,500 - 2,000). © Bonhams 2001-2023

Thinly cast in openwork with raised lines on both sides to depict a mythical deity riding a winged tiger and flanked by two monkeys, a piece of long fur over his shoulders and tied at his waist, his chest bear, wearing a pair of scaled boots, the monkeys dressed in similar attire, the tiger shown in profile with striped markings, all supported by bracketed railing underneath, a square tab extended below for insert, covered overall with malachite and earth encrustations.

Note: The bronze panel serves as the finial for a bronze 'money tree', and the central mythical figure may represent Fuxi, one of the Three Sovereigns established the Chinese civilization by introducing the use of fire and the rule of eight trigrams. Fuxi, tiger and monkey are all mythical gods closely associated with indigenous tribes in present day Southwestern China.

'Money tree' was an essential part of Eastern Han burial customs in the region, largely concentrated in today's Chengdu plains, Sichuan province. A typical 'money tree' consists of one bronze finial and four to six tiers of bronze branches below, fee-standing and supported by a pottery base. The branches are often decorated with abundance of 'coin' motifs - circular disc with a square aperture - hence the name 'money tree' (yao qian shu or qian shu) was assigned. The practice and ritual of 'money tree' remains unknown, but scholars have agreed that the complex iconography appeared as decorative motifs originated from ancient myth and regional shamanic tales.

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Lot 30group of silver inlaid bronze chariot fittingsWestern Han dynasty (206 BC-9 AD); 2 7/8in – 7/8in (7.4cm – 2.2cm) in various sizes (14). Sold for US$5,737.50 (Estimate US$2,000 - 3,000). © Bonhams 2001-2023

Comprised of a pair of cylindrical finials each with four projecting ribs; a pair of short cylindrical finials each with a single projecting rib; a pair of 'U'-shaped rein guides; a pair of rings and a larger bent ring; a thick plug with horseshoe-shaped top, all decorated with cloud motifs and volutes and spirals inlaid in silver, together with two small plain bronze rings, a small gilt bronze ring and a small bronze sphere pierced with a square aperture.

Note: Compare the inlaid bronze chariot fittings from the tomb of Prince Liu Sheng (d. 113 B.C.) at Lingshan, Mancheng, Hebei province, illustrated in the excavation report, Mancheng Han mu fajue baogao (Excavation of the Han Tombs at Man-ch'eng), Vols. I and II, Beijing, 1980.

A Western Han chariot with inlaid bronze fittings, unearthed in Changqing county, Shandong province, is published by Cui in "Reconstruction and Study of the Horse-drawn Carriage No. 1 from Han Tomb No. 1 on Shuangru Hill," Kaogu, 1997, No. 3, pp. 16-25, and photo pl. 4. For a reconstructed chariot with original Western Han inlaid bronze fittings unearthed from Maoling, Shaanxi province, see catalog of the special exhibition organized by the Kentucky Horse Park, Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History, Prospect, 2000, pp. 130-131, no. 111.

A closely related set of chariot fittings and horse trappings inlaid with gold, silver and gemstones was sold at J.J. Lally & Co. special exhibition, Ancient Chinese Bronzes, New York, 2011, no. 26, described as Western Han dynasty.

See also a variety of Han dynasty chariot and horse trappings illustrated by Sun, Han dai wuzhi wenhua ziliao tushuo (Illustrated Catalog of Material Culture in the Han Dynasty), updated version, Beijing, 2020, pp. 117-142.

Bonhams. J. J. Lally & Co. Fine Chinese Works of Art, New York, March 20, 2023