Ritual wine container (fangyi) with masks (taotie) and dragons

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 5

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At A Glance

On View
  • Period

    ca. 1200 BCE
  • Geography

    Anyang, probably Henan province, China
  • Material

  • Dimension

    H x W x D: 23 × 14.6 × 11.4 cm (9 1/16 × 5 3/4 × 4 1/2 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    The rectangular body is divided vertically down the middle of each of four sides with flanges, each side cast with a large taotie mask with borders above and below containing confronted dragons, one dragon on each side of the flanges. Those around the foot are above the arched openings. The cover is cast with taotie masks facing up. The knob is cast with taotie masks. There is an emblematic character on the inside bottom and one inside the cover; they are not identical. The vessel is covered with a green patina with red encrustations inside the lines of the design, possibly cinnabar.
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Huang Jun 黃濬 (1888-1944)
    Robert Somerville
    Marilynn Alsdorf (born 1926)
    Eskenazi Ltd. (Founded 1923)
  • Provenance

    From at least 1942 to ?
    Huang Jun, Beijing. [1]
    From ? to 1952
    Robert Somerville, Chicago, Illinois. [2]
    From 1952 to ?
    James W. and Marilynn Alsdorf, Chicago, Illinois, purchased from Robert Somerville, Chicago, Illinois. [3]
    From ? to 1991
    Eskenazi Ltd, London, England. [4]
    From 1991
    Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Eskenazi Ltd, London, England. [5]
    [1] According to document dated August 28, 1990, the bronze was published by Huang Jun in “Yehzhong pianyu,” 1942, vol. 3, plate 22. Huang was a connoisseur and collector in Beijing, and this volume reportedly illustrated bronzed that came from the Anyang excavations possibly in the 1930s. See memorandum dated Aug. 28, 1990, copy in object file, Collections Management Office.
    [2] According to Eskenazi, Ltd, Jim Alsdorf acquired the object from Robert Somerville in April 9, 1952. See invoice from Eskenazi dated, Feb 21, 1991, copy in object file, Collections Management Office. See also receipt of payment from Robert Somerville to J.W. Alsdorf dated April 9, 1952, copy in object file, Collections Management Office.
    [3] See note 2.
    [4] Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.
    [5] See note 4.
  • Origin

    Anyang, probably Henan province, China
  • Credit Line

    Purchase — funds provided by Mr. T. T. Tsui, Hong Kong and the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program
  • Type

  • On View

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

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