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Ben Janssens Oriental Art

Bronze ceremonial wine vessel, Zun
China
late Shang to early Western Zhou dynasty, 11th century BC
Height: 10 ¼ inches, 26 cm
Diameter at mouth: 8 inches, 20.2 cm

A heavily cast bronze vessel of wide beaker form, the body divided into four horizontal registers. The bottom section flares gently outward, terminating in a low straight rim that forms the foot of the vessel. A band of relief decoration incorporating two bold taotie masks encircles this section. The masks have broad noses, bulging eyes, C-shaped horns and hooked fangs. A similar decorative band encircles the wider central section. Just above it is a narrow band that features four pairs of confronting archaistic birds. The birds have plumed heads with a bulging eye and a hooked beak, upturned wings, long curled tail feathers and hooked claws. All three lower bands are divided into four sections by prominent vertical flanges that have L-shaped incisions. The upper section flares outward into a trumpet mouth and is cast with a band of eight pointed blades, each consisting of confronting birds with exaggerated tail feathers. A six-character dedicatory pictogram inside the foot reads: […] zuo wen zun yi […], which can be translated as: ‘X had this ornamented (or precious) vessel made.’ The strong patina on the vessel has areas of malachite and ruby encrustation.

all text & images Ben Janssens Oriental Art

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