Ritual basin (pan) with dragons, fish, tigers, and birds

The pan has a large coiled serpent with a scaled body in the interior. The head of the serpent is rendered in unusual bevelled relief, and its body is accented by a central raised ridge. The intervening areas are filled by concentric bands of spirals, volutes, and dotted circlets executed so densely and delicately that the interior has an almost frothy, lacey effect. A parade of fish, dragons, and birds, encircle the rim of the interior. The exterior of the basin as well as the foot ring are decorated with similar creatures. The pair of handles is unusual for pan of this date, and can conceivably be later additions to an originally handle-less basin.

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Historical period(s)
Early Western Zhou dynasty, ca. late 11th-early 10th century BCE
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x Diam: 9.5 x 32.9 cm (3 3/4 x 12 15/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase β€” funds provided by the B.Y. Lam Foundation Fund and the Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1993.16a-d
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Ritual vessel: pan

Keywords
bird, casting, China, dragon, fish, snake, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From at least 1959
H. Okura collection. [1]

From ?
Bella and P.P. Chiu Collection. [2]

To 1993
Eskenazi Ltd., London, England. [3]

From 1993
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Eskenazi Ltd., London, England. [4]

Notes:

[1] According to Jenny So, β€œThe Piece was in the Okura Collection in Japan and has been well published since 1959 by noted Japanese scholars like Mizuno, Umehara, Hayashi, and more recently by Jessica Rawson. Its provenance and collecting history can be traced back at least as far as the 1950’s.” See Acquisition Consideration Form, copy in object file, Collections Management Office. The first publication on this piece was published in 1959 from Mizuno Seiichi in 1959; See Bronzes and Jades of Ancient China (Tokyo: Nihon Keizai, 1959), pl. 121.

[2] See invoice dated June 16, 1993 from Eskenazi Ltd. According to their statement, the object was part of the Bella and P.P. Chiu collection and was published in the The Bella and P.P. Chiu Collection of Ancient Chinese Bronzes, cat. no. 29.

[3] See invoice from Eskenazi Ltd., copy in object file, Collections Management Office. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s)

Bella and P. P. Chiu
H. Okura
Eskenazi Ltd. Founded 1923

Description

The pan has a large coiled serpent with a scaled body in the interior. The head of the serpent is rendered in unusual bevelled relief, and its body is accented by a central raised ridge. The intervening areas are filled by concentric bands of spirals, volutes, and dotted circlets executed so densely and delicately that the interior has an almost frothy, lacey effect. A parade of fish, dragons, and birds, encircle the rim of the interior. The exterior of the basin as well as the foot ring are decorated with similar creatures. The pair of handles is unusual for pan of this date, and can conceivably be later additions to an originally handle-less basin.

Published References
  • Nihon shucho Shina kodo seika [Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Japan]. 6 vols., Osaka. vol. 2: cat. 88.
  • Mizuno Seiichi. In Shu seidoki to tama [Bronzes and Jades of Ancient China]. Tokyo. pl. 121.
  • Hayashi Minao. In Shu jidai seidoki no kenkyu. In shu seidoki soran 2 vols., Tokyo. cat. 67, pl. 365.
  • Jessica Rawson. Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 2 Washington and Cambridge, Massachusetts. fig. 63.
  • Jenny F. So. Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 3 New York, 1995. fig. 62.4.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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