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Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Periods
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Wine Vessel: You
North China; Western Zhou period (1050-770 B.C.E.), about late 11th - early 10th century B.C.E.
H. 12 5/8 in. (32.1 cm)including handle; W. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm)across handle attachments
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
Wine buckets with wide proportions and lateral swing handles were introduced around the late 12th century B.C.E. and were often paired with zun. Early Western Zhou examples are often sparsely decorated, relying for their effect on their elegant profiles. Narrow bands of decoration on the lid, shoulder, and foot comprise abstracted ribbonlike dragon shapes (identifiable primarily through the presence of their eyes) against a background of fine spirals. The casting of the swing handle was a tricky process, probably necessitating the creation of a separate mold and second pour of the molten bronze once the main vessel had been cast. Although modern connoisseurs admire the blue-green patina that has resulted from oxidation of the bronze during burial, the original metal would have gleamed a bright brass color. An inscription cast into the inside of the lid and the body of the vessel dedicates the vessel to fu gui, "Father Gui," a reference either to the person who commissioned the vessel or the ancestor who received the offerings of wine.
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