Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
  • 將圖片載入圖庫檢視器 Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
  • 將圖片載入圖庫檢視器 Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
  • 將圖片載入圖庫檢視器 Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
  • 將圖片載入圖庫檢視器 Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”
  • 將圖片載入圖庫檢視器 Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”

Rare Pair of Archaic Bronze Wine Vessels, “You”

Late Shang Dynasty
12th-11th Century BCE
Height: 33.5 cm
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Published:

Millennia Masterpieces, Weisbrod Chinese Art, Ltd., New York, 2000, number 1.
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Provenance:

Private Canadian Collection
Yan Collection, Brooklyn, New York
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A pair of archaic bronze wine vessels and covers with swing handles of broad pear shape and lozenge cross section, boldly and crisply cast in high relief with two large taotie masks, front and back, separated by two flanges on a leiwen or thunder pattern background. Each mask is again divided down the middle by flanges creating four even sections. A band with a raised relief dragon design on a leiwen ground encircles the neck above the main decoration separated by upturned flanges at either side and a raised knob for attachment of the handle above the center of the taotie. This band is repeated on the uppermost section of the splayed foot. Large, bold taotie masks on a leiwen ground, similarly separated from each other and divided by flanges, decorate the cover above a vertical rim cast with birds looking backwards on a leiwen ground also separated by flanges. At the peak of the cover there is a high acorn shaped knob handle. A removable swing handle adorned with human faces, having bold eyes, nose, and long beards enclosing cicadas, terminates in two large prominent tiger heads that attach to the body above the shoulder over the round raised knobs. The underside of the handle is cast with incised crease marks. A malachite and azurite green patina with extensive cuprite red patina and encrustation covers the entire vessel.
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Shang dynasty bronze you, or wine buckets are very rare, and it is extremely unusual to find a pair. Excavations have illustrated that several vessels, sometimes from the same mold, were often buried together. Usually they are of simpler shapes, less complicated and less important.
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The decoration on the handles of these vessels is extremely unusual. The cicadas, commonly enveloped in leiwen (see the Freer Gallery you below), are incorporated on the present vessels into the beard below a long nose and two bold round eyes of an old sage.
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A similar You, the property of the Hunan Provincial Museum, excavated from only 20 cm. below ground, and filled with 320 pieces of jade, is illustrated in Treasures, 300 Best Excavated Antiques From China, Hebei Province, Beijing, 1992, no. 125. In a footnote to the text the you is referred to as "the most important type of ancient ceremonial wine container." The vessel was oxidized to a blackish color although the handle turned emerald green, apparently the result of two separate castings of differing mixes of copper-tin alloy.
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Many examples of similar bronze vessels and covers in old collections are now missing the handles, separated due to the original method of attachment enabling them to be detached and lost.
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A very similar smaller vessel and cover, lacking the handle, from the Musee Cernuschi, Paris is illustrated by Michel Beurdeley in The Chinese Collector Through The Centuries, From the Han to the 20th Century, cat. no. 8, p. 218. Another similar vessel missing its handle is in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery on exhibit with several jade pieces purportedly found inside the vessel, no. S1987.935.1-15.
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A single seemingly identical archaic bronze wine vessel and cover from The ShenXiuTang Collection is illustrated and published in The ShenXiuTang Collection by Sablowsky & Tang Oriental Art, Singapore, 1999. p. 8.
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Another very similar vessel cast with a strikingly large taotie, having different bands bordering the neck and cover as well as different heads at either end of the handle, is in the Freer Gallery, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Chinese Bronzes, Vol. 3, Shang, Cultural Relics Publishing House, Beijing, p. 132. Reported to have been excavated at Anyang, Henan province the you is catalogued as Shang dynasty.