Ancient Chinese Bronzes
March 19 - April 9, 2011
AN ARCHAIC BRONZE RITUAL VESSEL (ZUN)
Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 11th – 10th Century B.C.
of cylindrical form with wide flaring mouth and splayed foot, decorated with two large taotie masks, each with angular horns in graduated relief above bulging oval eyes, ridged nose and wide upper jaw defined by hooked fangs framed by elongated quill-like elements emerging at either side, rising to hooked scrolls beside the horns and curving down to end in claws, suggesting the split bodies of the monsters, in turn flanked by profile heads of bottle-horn dragons with slender hooked-scroll bodies filling the raised frieze encircling the vessel between pairs of horizontal ‘bowstring’ bands, with smooth dark patina and lightly encrusted with wide areas of malachite green unevenly distributed over the surface, a seven-character inscription cast on the interior of the side of the high foot.
Height 9 inches (22.7 cm)
The inscription may be read as Ya Er zuo Zuding zun yi (亞耳作祖丁尊彝) and may be translated as “Ya Er made this zun vessel for Zuding.” The first character Ya indicates an officer of the court, possibly a post in command of military functions and rituals.
From the collection of Mrs. Pauline Murat, Paris
Hayashi. In Shū jidai seidōki no kenkyū: In Shū seidōki sōran ichi (Study of the Yin and Zhou Bronze Vessels), Vol. I, Tokyo, 1984, p. 230, no. 80, a photo of the present example and an image of rubbing, where Hayashi cited the source of illustration as Chen and Matsumaru (eds.), Yin Zhou qingtongqi fenlei tulu (Illustrated Classification of Shang and Zhou Bronzes), Tokyo, 1977.
Barnard and Cheung. Zhong Ri Ou Mei Ao Niu suojian suotuo suomo jinwen huibian (Rubbings and Hand Copies of Bronze Inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, European, American, and Australasian Collections), Taipei, 1978, Vol. 6, p. 553, no. 616, where the authors recorded that this particular inscription was previously published in the following compilations of ancient Chinese bronze inscriptions:
Wu, Shifen (1796-1856). Jungu lu jinwen, ~1850, 2.1.5
Zhu, Shanqi (~1800-1855). Jingwuxinshi yiqi kuanshi, ~1854, shang, 44
Wu, Dacheng (1835-1902). Kezhai jigulu, 1896, 13.6
Luo, Zhenyu (1866-1940). Yinwen cun, 1917, shang, 17
Liu, Tizhi (1879-1963). Xiaojiao jingge jinshi taben, 1935, 7.32.3
Luo, Zhenyu (1866-1940). Sandai jijin wencun, 1936, 11.23.8
高 22.7 厘米