Lidded ritual ewer (guang) with taotie, dragons, birds, tigers, elephants, fish, snakes, and humans

Ewer with design that incorporates many stylized birds and animals. No inscription.

Historical period(s)
ca. 1100-1050 BCE
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x W x D: 31.4 x 31.5 x 14.4 cm (12 3/8 x 12 3/8 x 5 11/16 in)
Geography
China, Middle Yangzi Valley
Credit Line
Gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1961.33a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Ritual vessel: guang

Keywords
animal, casting, China, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), taotie, wine, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From at least 1926 to 1961
Eugene Meyer (1875-1959) and Agnes E. Meyer (1887-1970), Washington, DC, and Mt. Kisco, NY, from at least 1926 [1]

From 1961
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer in 1961 [2]

Notes:

[1] See H. d'Ardenne de Tizac, L'Art Chinois Classique (Paris: Henri Laurens, 1926), p. 25, pls. 6-7.

[2] See Agnes Meyer's Deed of Gift, dated December 21, 1961, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer (1875-1959) and (1887-1970)

Description

Ewer with design that incorporates many stylized birds and animals. No inscription.

Marking(s)

Stickers and painted inscription on bottom of lid read:
"K./No 266" (white sticker with red border)
"266" (round white sticker with black ink)

Written in red ink on bottom of lid:
"L.1707.B"

Written in red ink on bottom of body"
"L.1707A"

Label

This extraordinary vessel bristles with life, from the birds at the front and on the handles, to the humans wrapped in snakes on the back legs. Most likely made in southern China, it seems to offer a view of a spirit world in constant movement and flux.

Published References
  • Daniel Shapiro. Ancient Chinese Bronzes: A Personal Appreciation. .
  • Yuan Te-hsing. A Discussion of the Dragon Motif in the Decoration of a Kuei. vol. 13, no. 2 Taipei, May-June 1978. fig. 4.
  • Jörg Trübner. Yu and kuang zur typologie der chineseischen bronzen. Leipzig. pl. 40.
  • Netta A. Owens. The Bronze Owl Vessels and Stone Artifacts from the Late Shang Period. M.A. Thesis, University of Pittsburgh, 1979 Ann Arbor. pl. 18.
  • Keng Jung. Shang chou i ch'i t'ung k'ao: Researches in Ceremonial Vessels of the Shang and Chou Dynasties. Peiping. pl. 360.
  • Hai wai i chen [Chinese Art in Overseas Collections]. Taipei, 1985. vol. 2: p. 27.
  • Otto Kümmel. Chinesische Kunst: zweihundert Hauptwerke der Ausstellung der Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst in der Preussischen Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 1929. Berlin. pl. 34.
  • Higuchi Takayasu. Chugoku seidoki hyakusen., 1 hen. Tokyo. pl. 19.
  • Kwang-chih Chang. The 'Meaning' of Shang Bronze Art. vol. 3, no. 2, Spring 1990. .
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 7, vol. 1: p. 153.
  • Liu Wang-hang. Chiu yu ch'ing t'ung chiu ch'i. No. 22 Taipei. p. 12.
  • Agnes E. Meyer. Charles Lang Freer and His Gallery. Washington, 1970. p. 12.
  • Lin-ts'an Li. Chung-kuo ti i shu kuang hui. no. 20, . p. 14.
  • Shang-hai po wu kuan. Shang Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'I wen shih. Pei-ching. p. 15, fig. 4.
  • Thomas Lawton. Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Memorial Exhibition. Exh. cat. Washington, 1971. cat. 9, pp. 18-19.
  • Higuchi Takayasu. Kijin to ningen no Chugoku. Tokyo. p. 29.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 224, fig. 157.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 45, p. 255.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.

Related Objects