Serving vessel with lid (dun) and dragons and ducks

Historical period(s)
Warring States period, Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th century BCE
H x W: 15.3 x 16.4 cm (6 x 6 7/16 in)
China, Shanxi Province, purportedly from Liyu
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 18: Art and Industry: China's Ancient Houma Foundry
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: dun

casting, China, dragon, duck, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), Warring States period (475 - 221 BCE)

Probably excavated at Li-yu in northern Shanxi, China in March 1923 [1]

From 1923 to 1932
Madame L. Wannieck [2]

From 1932
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Madame L. Wannieck, of Paris in 1932 [3]


[1] Thomas Lawton, Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480-222 B.C., exhibition cat. (Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1982), pg. 32, cat. no. 4. Also see object file, undated folder sheet note 3, notes from L. Wannieck, as well as, object file, undated folder sheet note 5, Carl Bishop.

[2] See note 1. Also see object file, undated folder sheet note 1.

[3] See note 2. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Madame L. Wannieck


The ellipsoidal food vessel stands on a small undecorated flaring foot. Only a narrow horizontal concave register at the upper edge of the rim of the bowl interrupts the full swelling contours. Two circular handles appear on opposite sides of the bowl. The low rounded lid is unadorned except for three small ducks that serve as legs when the cover is inverted and four miniature masks that overhang the lower edge of the lid to keep it in position. Enlivening the seated ducks and miniature masks is a meticulous combination of textural motifs. That naturalism contrasts with the stylized interlaced bands that appear on the bowl and circular handles.

The Freer dun is said to have been unearthed in 1923 at Liyu in northern Shanxi Province. The precision of the bronze casting--appearing almost as though the designs were engraved--and combination of abstract and naturalistic decoration are characteristic of bronzes associated with the well-known site.

Published References
  • Chung-kuo tiao su shih t'u lu. Chung-kuo mei shu shih t'u lu ts'ung shu Shanghai. vol. 1: p. 109.
  • William Watson. Ancient Chinese Bronzes. The Arts of the East London. pl. 65a.
  • Sueji Umehara. Shina kokogaku ronko [Studies in Chinese Archaeology]. Showa 13 Tokyo, 1938-1940. pl. 4.
  • 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. 5, fig. 9.
  • Sueji Umehara. Etude des Bronzes des Royaumes Combattants. Memoire de Toho-bunka-gakuin Kyoto kenkyusho, vol. 7 Kyoto. pl. 7.
  • Sueji Umehara. Shina kodo seikwa [Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Europe and Asia]. 3 vols., Osaka. vol. 3: pl. 165.
  • T'an Tan-chiung. T'ung ch'i kai shu. Taipei. pl. 104.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. vol. 1: pl. 43 b.
  • Sekai kokogaku taikei [Archaeology of the World]. 16 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1962. vol. 6: p. 70, fig. 189.
  • Alfred Salmony, Paul Pelliot. Asiatische Kunst Ausstellung Koln 1926. Munich. pl. 32.
  • Mizuno Seiichi. In Shu seidoki to tama [Bronzes and Jades of Ancient China]. Tokyo. pl. 132.
  • Keng Jung. Shang chou i ch'i t'ung k'ao: Researches in Ceremonial Vessels of the Shang and Chou Dynasties. Peiping. vol. 2: pl. 210.
  • Wai ta i shu chuan t'ung t'u lu [The Great Heritage of Chinese Art in Private Collections Museums all over the World]. multi-volumed, Shanghai. vol. 1: pl. 8.
  • Jean Henri Ardenne de Tizac. L'art chinois classique. Paris. pl. 51b.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480-222 B.C. Washington, 1982-1983. cat. 4, p. 32.
  • 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. 58, pl. 31.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 103, p. 529.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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