Ritual vessel (you) and cover

Ceremonial vessel of the type “yu,” with cover.
Surface: a variable green patina over gold bronze; earth incrusted.
Decoration: in low relief and delicate linear relief. Inscriptions inside of the vessel and the cover.

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Historical period(s)
Western Zhou dynasty, ca. late 11th-early 10th century BCE
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 32.6 x 23.9 x 17.5 cm (12 13/16 x 9 7/16 x 6 7/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1911.37a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Ritual vessel: you

Keywords
China, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE)
Provenance

To 1911
Li Wenqing (circa 1869-1931), Shanghai to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Bronze List, S.I. 192, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869-1931

Description

Ceremonial vessel of the type "yu," with cover.
Surface: a variable green patina over gold bronze; earth incrusted.
Decoration: in low relief and delicate linear relief. Inscriptions inside of the vessel and the cover.

Inscription(s)

"Translation by Mr. S. Tang:
'The object is called "yew." The inscription on its cover and the bottom of the receptacle are the same but in different form and position.
There are seven inscriptions on the cover and also on the bottom, which are given in Chinese characters in the original translation.
The figures 1, 2, and 3 are common letters in this kind of receptacles at Shang dynasty, and mean hand down to the son and grand son, in other words, hereditary. Numbers 4, 5, mean father and K'ai. They are also common. They are interpreted by scholars as for the father 'K'ai.' The word 'K'ai' is one of the Shih-Kan, ten honorary and astronomical characters. All the Emperors in Shang dynasty called themselves one of these words, so they engraved their names, in this manner, to the bronzes of that period.
Number 6 means woman. We find most of this kind of bronzes bear the word son, which is interpreted as the son who made this object for his father. We also find in other objects, which bear the word woman as interpreted to have been made by woman.
So this jar may have been made by a princess as an offering to the temple of her ancestors.
Number 7 is doubtful. It looks like the word "ye," the name of this object being abbreviated. The inscriptions always say what "ye" and the word "yi" is afterwards abbreviated, but I am not certain about this case.
(See Curatorial Remark number 4)

Published References
  • Chin wen tsung chi. Taipei. vol. 7: p. 2909.
  • Shang Chou chin wen shi ch'eng. Multi-volume, Taipei. vol. 6: cat. 5879.
  • Sueji Umehara. On the Shapes of the Bronze Vessels of Ancient China: An Archaeological Study. Toho Bunka Gakuin kyoto kenkyujo kenkyu hohoku, vol.15 Kyoto. pl. 15, fig. 7.
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Yin and Chou in Chinese Bronzes. no. 8, 1955 article reprint. Stockholm. cat. A230, p. 106.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 57, p. 321.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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