Lidded ritual wine container (you) with taotie and dragons

Historical period(s)
Late Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1100-1050 BCE
H x W x D: 36.1 × 27.3 × 24.3 cm (14 3/16 × 10 3/4 × 9 9/16 in)
China, Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: you

Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), China, dragon, mask, taotie, wine

Reportedly excavated in Anyang, Henan province, China [1]

From 1939 to 1940
C. T. Loo & Company, New York from September 26, 1939 [2]

From 1940
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C. T. Loo & Company on July 10, 1940 [3]


[1] According to undated curatorial remark, in object file.

[2] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. 86536: "Bronze Jar with cover, Shang," C. T. Loo & Frank Caro Archive, Musée Guimet, Paris, copy in object file. The object was brought to the Freer Gallery for examination on November 6, 1939.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated July 10, 1940, copy in object file. According to Loo's stockcard, the vessel was sold on July 15, 1940.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948


This you is decorated with elaborate relief designs of taotie, as well as bands of design that draw attention to the container’s foot, body, neck collar, and lid. Four types of dragons enliven the vessel surface. Such fierce animals show a range of artistic imagination among designers at Anyang during the Bronze Age. A bird motif (left) inside the container and lid might represent a family or clan.

Published References
  • A. E. K. Cull, James K. Cull, W. Perceval Yetts. The Cull Chinese Bronzes. London. no. 3.
  • Shang Chou chin wen shi ch'eng. Multi-volume, Taipei. cat. 5586, vol. 6.
  • Michael Kampen O'Riley. Art Beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas., 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. pl. 4.6.
  • James Legge. The Chinese Classics. 5 vols., Hong Kong and London, 1865-72 and 1893-5. vol. 4: part 2, pp. 358, 445.
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Some New Bronzes in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. no. 24 Stockholm. fig. 39.
  • Keng Jung, Chang Wei. Yin Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i t'ung lun [A Survey of Shang-Chou Bronzes]. Peking. cat. 173.
  • Chin wen tsung chi. Taipei. vol. 6: p. 2767.
  • Ludwig Bachhofer. A Short History of Chinese Art. New York. pl. 14.
  • 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. vol. 2: A 584.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 49, vol. 1: pp. 278-283.
  • Grace Dunham Guest, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 2.
  • 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. pp. 6-7, 37-38, pls. 16-17.
  • Charles Seymour. Tradition and Experiment in Modern Sculpture. Washington. p. 9.
  • Michael Sullivan. The Arts of China., 3rd ed. Berkeley. p. 24.
  • Wen-hua ta-k'e min ch'i chien ch'u-tu wen-wu/Wen hua da ge ming qi jian chu tu wen wu. Beijing. p. 31.
  • Meng-chia Ch'en. Style of Chinese Bronzes. vol. 1 Honolulu, 1945-1946. pp. 36-37, pl. 3, fig. 14.
  • William Hung. A Concordance to Shih Ching [Mao shi yin de fu biao jiao jing wen]. Sinological Index Series 2 vols., , suppl. no. 9. Peiping. p. 56.
  • Daniel Freeman. Shang Bronzes in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Princeton. pp. 76-81, fig. 22.
  • Mario Bussagli. Chinese Bronzes. London and New York. p. 79, pl. 34.
  • William Watson. Early Civilization in China. Library of the early civilizations London, 1966. p. 99.
  • , Nicholas Rauh, Heidi Kraus. A Short History of the Ancient World. Ontario, Canada. p. 193, fig. 8.1.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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