Food serving vessel (wuchen gui)

Historical period(s)
Shang dynasty, ca. 12th-11th century BCE
H x W x D: 16.2 x 29.2 x 21.6 cm (6 3/8 x 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: gui

casting, China, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), WWII-era provenance

James Mellon Menzies (1885 –1957), Henan Province, China then Toronto, Canada [1]

After 1928
C. T. Loo & Company, Paris, France and New York, NY [2]

By at least 1968
Arthur M. Sackler, New York, NY likely purchased in New York, NY from either Frank Caro Chinese Art or J. T. Tai & Company [3]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift from Arthur M. Sackler on September 11, 1987 [4]


[1] See: See: Chen Mengjia, Yin Zhou qing tong qi fen lei tu lu. Dongjing: Ji gu shu wu, 1977, no. A196 (this publication is also known by it’s Japanese title, In Shū seidōki bunrui zuroku). James Mellon Menzies (1885–1957) was a missionary to China for the Presbyterian Church of Canada. In 1910, the church sent him to Henan Province, where he developed an intense interest in Chinese culture and antiquities. He amazed a large collection of oracle bones (many of which are now in the Royal Ontario Museum) and published widely on his collection. In 1932, he taught in the department of archeology at Qilu University, in Jinan, Shandong Province, China. At the university, he formed a museum of antiquities. He returned to Canada in 1936 and resided in Toronto. Chen Mengja notes that the vessel was owned by Menzies and Loo.

[2] See note 1. See also photo negative in C. T. Loo & Frank Caro Archive, Musée Guimet, Paris, France. Negative labeled: “Kuei Early Chou, Dr. A. Sackler, (6) CNMB 96,” copy located in object file.

Frank Caro, who started working for C. T. Loo in 1928 began photographing Loo’s stock. This photograph was likely taken by Caro after 1928.

[3] See the earliest publication of this object that lists Arthur M. Sackler as the owner: Robert Poor, The Bronze Ritual Vessels of Ancient China, Series 1, Lecture 4 (New York: Intercultural Arts Press, 1968), 1-4-3.

[4] Pursuant to the agreement between Arthur M. Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution, dated July 28, 1982, legal title of the donated objects was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on September 11, 1987.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

James Mellon Menzies 1885-1957
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948

Published References
  • Daniel Shapiro. Ancient Chinese Bronzes: A Personal Appreciation. .
  • Robert Poor. The Bronze Ritual Vessels of Ancient China. Series 1, Lecture 4 New York, 1968. p. 3.
  • Alexander Coburn Soper. A Case of Meaningful Magic: In Honor of the Ninth Presentation of the Charles Lang Freer Medal. Washington, 1990. p. 13, fog/ 2.
  • Xi Mengcao. Haiwai guizhen teji: Zhongguo qiqi [Chinese Treasures Overseas, a special collection at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery]. no. 71, July 1991. pp. 58 -74.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. p. 69, fig. 32.
  • Dawn Ho Delbanco. Art from Ritual: Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 29, pp. 82-83.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 121, pp. 182-183.
  • Robert W. Bagley. Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections: Volume 1 of Ancient Chinese Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. vol. 1, Washington and Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987. cat. 103, pp. 520-239.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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