Ritual wine cup (gu) with masks (taotie), dragons, and snakes

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 2

Terms of Use

Usage Conditions Apply

At A Glance

On View
  • Period

    ca. 1150-1100 BCE
  • Geography

    Anyang, probably Henan province, China
  • Material

  • Dimension

    H x Diam: 32.7 × 19.4 cm (12 7/8 × 7 5/8 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    Decorations cast in high and low relief, grey-green patination with patch of azurite blue inside body and occasional specks of light green. One-character inscription cast inside foot.
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Wu Dacheng 吳大澂 (1835-1902)
    J.T. Tai & Co. (established in 1950)
  • Provenance

    By 1896
    Possibly Wu Dacheng ??? (1835-1902), method of acquisition unknown [1]
    By 1951
    J. T. & Tai & Co., INC. New York, New York, method of acquisition unknown [1]
    From 1951
    Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from J. T. & Tai & Co., New York, New York. [2]
    [1] See WU Dacheng ???, Kezhai ji gu lu: fu shi wen sheng gao ????? : ????? / ???? (Shanghai: Shang wu yin shu guan, 1930), vol 21, 6a. A rubbing of the
    object's inscription is included within the publication. The preface to the publication dates WU Dacheng's original text to 1896, suggesting that the vessel was in circulation before or by the time of publication.
    [2] See invoice,
    J. T. Tai & Company INC. to Freer Art Gallery, November 1, 1951, copy in object file. On the invoice, the object is identified as JTT 13 and described as " One bronze Ku (Shang Dyn.). H. 13". Weight 3-1/8 lbs."
    J. T. Tai ??? (1911-1992) was an art dealer who was initially based in Shanghai, China. In 1949, Tai fled with his family to Hong Kong when a communist regime came to power. In 1950, he immigrated to New York, where he established J. T. Tai & Company, a gallery that opened in the fall of 1950 and specialized in the sale of Chinese arts.
    Research Completed on March 17, 2022
  • Origin

    Anyang, probably Henan province, China
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • Type

  • On View

    Sackler Gallery 23b: Anyang: China's Ancient City of Kings
  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The National Museum of Asian Art welcomes information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Keep Exploring