Square lidded ritual wine container (fangyi) with taotie, serpents, and birds

Historical period(s)
Early Western Zhou dynasty, ca. 1050-975 BCE
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x W x D: 35.3 x 24.8 x 23.3 cm (13 7/8 x 9 3/4 x 9 3/16 in)
Geography
China, Henan province, Luoyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1930.54a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Ritual vessel

Keywords
bird, casting, China, dragon, mask, taotie, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE)
Provenance

To 1930
Tonying and Company, New York, to 1930 [1]

From 1930
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company, New York, in 1930 [2]

Notes:

[1] Object file, undated folder sheet note. See also Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Tonying and Company

Label

Despite the beauty of its decoration, with elaborate taotie patterns and animal motifs rendered in different levels of relief, this vessel is most famous for its lengthy cast inscription of 187 characters. The text, one of the longest from the early Zhou period, is repeated inside the vessel and the lid. A court scribe named Ling might have composed the text himself; the cast inscription resembles the rhythm and flow of calligraphy. If so, he could have been following a family tradition: he was a younger relative of Da, who was responsible for the fangding (F1950.7) in the Freer collection.

The vessel commemorates three days of administrative meetings and ritual ceremonies held in Chengzhou during the reign of Zhao, the fourth Zhou monarch. Mingbao, the son of the Duke of Zhou and a nephew of the Taibao, led the events, which began with a massive gathering of court and regional officials and concluded with offerings of animal sacrifices. Afterwards, in appreciation of their efforts, Mingbao awarded ritual wine, “metal” (probably bronze), and oxen to Ling and his colleague Captain Kang, with the order that the gifts be used for ritual purposes.

Published References
  • Luo Zhenyu. A research into. vol. 5, no. 3 Kyoto, October 1929. opp. p. 480.
  • William Watson. Ancient Chinese Bronzes. The Arts of the East London. pl. 33a.
  • Benjamin Rowland, Laurence Sickman, H. G. Henderson, Robert Treat Paine, Richard Ettinghausen, Eric Schroeder. The University Prints. Oriental Art Series O 4 vols. Newton, Massachusetts, 1938-1941. Section 2: Early Chinese Art, pl. 99.
  • 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. 42, fig. 1.
  • Hai-Po Sun. Ho-nan chi chin t'u chih sheng lu (Illustrated Catalogue of Honan Bronzes). Peking. pls. 36a-b, 37.
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Yin and Chou in Chinese Bronzes. no. 8, 1955 article reprint. Stockholm. pl. 18, B24.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. pl. 8.
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  • Sekai bijutsu zenshu (A Complete Collection of World Art). 40 vols., Tokyo, F1951-1953. cat. 74.
  • Mizuno Seiichi. In Shu seidoki to tama (alt. spelling: In-sho seidoki to gyoku) (Bronzes and Jades of Ancient China). Tokyo. pl. 104, fig. 51.
  • Franz Michael. China Through the Ages: History of a Civilization. Boulder and London. fig. 6a.
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Some New Bronzes in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. no. 24 Stockholm. fig. 13.
  • Keng Jung Chang Wei. Yin Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i t'ung lun (A Survey of Shang-Chou Bronzes). Peking. cat. 167.
  • Deane Heller David Heller. The Nation's Art Treasures: Press Release., October 30, 1954. .
  • Dr. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy. Introduction to the Art of Eastern Asia. Chicago, March 1932. opp. p. 32.
  • Higuchi Takayasu. Chugoku seidoki hyakusen., 1 hen. Tokyo. pl. 52.
  • Chugoku bijutsu (Chinese Art in Western Collections). 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. fig. 43.
  • Noel Barnard. Bronze Casting and Bronze Alloys in Ancient China. Monumenta serica, no. 14 Canberra. pls. 1, 23.
  • Chen Mengjia. Yin Zhou qing tong qi fen lei tu lu (Yin-Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i fen lei t'u lu). 2 vols., Dongjing. A 646.
  • Grace Dunham Guest Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 3.
  • compiled by the staff of the Freer Gallery of Art. A Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes: Acquired During the Administration of John Ellerton Lodge. Oriental Studies Series, no. 3 Washington, 1946. p. 4-6, 42-43, pls. 21-22.
  • Freer Gallery of Art. The Freer Gallery of Art. Washington. p. 6.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 1, p. 20-21.
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  • Michael Sullivan. The Arts of China., 3rd ed. Berkeley. p. 35.
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  • The Horizon Book of the Arts of China. New York. p. 45.
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  • Jessica Rawson. Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 2 Washington and Cambridge, MA. p. 63, fig. 80, 40.9.
  • Sekai kokogaku taikei (Archaeology of the World). 16 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1962. p. 73, fig. 198.
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  • William Watson. Early Civilization in China. Library of the early civilizations London, 1966. p. 95.
  • Walter Karp. The Smithsonian Institution: An Establishment for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge Among Men. Washington. p. 114.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 9, p. 154.
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Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
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