One of a pair of tigers, possibly the base supports for a bell stand

A tiger: an open hollow chamber in the center. Surface: a green patina; traces of earth adhesions. Decoration: cast in low relief.

Historical period(s)
Middle Western Zhou dynasty, ca. 950-850 BCE
H x W x D: 25.3 x 15.9 x 75.2 cm (9 15/16 x 6 1/4 x 29 5/8 in)
China, Shaanxi province, Baoji
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel


casting, China, tiger, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE), WWII-era provenance

To 1935
Tonying and Company, New York. [1]

From 1935
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company, New York. [2]


[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record. See also Curatorial Remark 9 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Tonying and Company established 1902


A tiger: an open hollow chamber in the center. Surface: a green patina; traces of earth adhesions. Decoration: cast in low relief.


Although the purpose of this bronze object and it's pair F1935.22 is unknown, the inspiration for the form is obvious. Like real tigers, the ferocious heads have alert, menacing eyes and erect ears, as if the matching animals are ready to move. Each low-slung body is supported by powerful, sturdy legs and ends with a long, coiled tail. Dots on the face represent whisker follicles, and stripes on the middle section, lower legs, and tails resemble the unique markings of these fierce creatures. Despite having added curving fangs and intricate decorations on the shoulders and haunches, the designer was obviously familiar with the appearance of real tigers. This suggests parts of north China were warm enough to support such wildlife three thousand years ago.

When the Freer Gallery acquired the pair in 1935, an accompanying note claimed the bronze tigers had been unearthed in 1923 at Baoji in Shaanxi province, where monarchs of the Zhou dynasty had reigned for more than a century.

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. 61.
  • Laurence Sickman, Alexander Coburn Soper. The Art and Architecture of China. The Pelican History of Art London and Baltimore. pl. 6.
  • T'an Tan-chiung. Chung-hua i-shu t'u-lu [Chinese Art]. Taipei. pl. 59 (upper).
  • William Watson. The Art of Dynastic China. New York, 1981. ills. 257-258.
  • Michael Sullivan. A Short History of Chinese Art. Berkeley. fig. 61.
  • Osvald Siren. Kinas Konst Under Tre Artusenden. 2 vols., Stockholm, 1942-1943. vol. 1: p. 93, fig. 62.
  • Hakutsura Bijutsukan. Old Chinese Art. Osaka. pl. 12.
  • 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. 372.
  • Rene Grousset. La Chine et son Art. Collection Ars et historia Paris. facing p. 21.
  • Jan Fontein, Rose Hempel. China, Korea, Japan. Propylaen Kunsgeschichte Berlin. pl. 82a.
  • The Encyclopedia of World Art. 17 vols., New York, 1959-1968. vol. 3: pl. 223.
  • Higuchi Takayasu. Chugoku seidoki hyakusen., 1 hen. Tokyo. pl. 65.
  • Chugoku bijutsu [Chinese Art in Western Collections]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. vol. 4: fig. 53.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 10, vol. 1: p. 154.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 4.
  • Untitled Article. Washington, Sunday, January 26, 1936. p. 5.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 15.
  • Michael Sullivan. The Arts of China., 3rd ed. Berkeley. p. 35.
  • Yumiko Suefusa. Yin and Chou Bronzes, with Special Reference to ssu kuang-Type Receptacles. no. 55 Tokyo, March 1978. p. 37.
  • Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. p. 43, fig. 33.
  • Wang Shixiang. Seven Great Centers of Our Country's Art in the Imperialist United States. vol. 7 Taipei. pp. 45-55, pl. 25.
  • 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. 53, pl. 27.
  • The Horizon Book of the Arts of China. New York. p. 55.
  • Charles Seymour. Tradition and Experiment in Modern Sculpture. Washington. p. 62.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 62-63.
  • J. LeRoy Davidson. New Light on Middle Chou Bronzes. vol. 3, no. 1 Detroit and New York, Winter 1940. p. 100, fig. 7.
  • Mario Bussagli. Chinese Bronzes. London and New York. p. 101, pl. 45.
  • Kodai Chugoku [Ancient China]. Sekai rekishi shirizu, vol. 3 Tokyo. p. 196.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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