Ritual wine warmer with taotie

Historical period(s)
Early Shang dynasty, ca. 1600-1500 BCE
H x W x D: 15 x 13 x 13 cm (5 7/8 x 5 1/8 x 5 1/8 in)
China, Henan province, probably Zhengzhou
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: jue

casting, China, Erligang period (ca. 1500 - ca. 1300 BCE), Robert Hatfield Ellsworth collection, taotie, wine, WWII-era provenance

From 1921 to 1959
Abel William Bahr (1877-1959), Ridgefield, CT, from 1921 [1]

From 1959 to about 1963
Edna H. Bahr (d. 1978), United States and England, acquired by descent from her father, Abel William Bahr, to about 1963 [2]

From about 1963
Christian Humann (died 1981), New York, purchased from Edna H. Bahr in about 1963 [3]

To 1986
Robert Hatfield Ellsworth (born 1929), New York, purchased from Christian Humann as part of the Pan Asian Collection, to 1986 [4]

From 1986
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Robert Hatfield Ellsworth in 1986 [2]


[1] According to Curatorial Remark 6 in the object record: "The jue was originally in the collection of A.W. Bahr. It passed to his daughter, Edna Bahr. It had been in Billy's possession for many years, since 1921. It was in America until 1959, when Miss Bahr moved back to England. She sold it to Christian Humann in approximately 1963, and it came into the possession of the source when he purchased the Pan Asian Collection."

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Edna H. Bahr died 1978
Abel William Bahr 1877-1959
Robert Hatfield Ellsworth 1929-2014
Christian Humann 1929 - 1981


This jue, with its dramatically extended spout, is one of the most ancient bronzes in the collection.  A pair of raised eyes surrounded by thin lines in relief represents a simple, early form of taotie.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Joseph Chang, Stephen Allee. Brushing the Past: Later Chinese Calligraphy from the Gift of Robert Haftield Ellsworth. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 30, fig. 6.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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