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    Sale 2027

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 228

    AN UNUSUAL PAIR OF LARGE BRONZE MASK-FORM HORSE FITTINGS

    EARLY WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY BC

    Price Realised  

    AN UNUSUAL PAIR OF LARGE BRONZE MASK-FORM HORSE FITTINGS
    EARLY WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, CIRCA 11TH CENTURY BC
    Each cast in the form of a dragon head in profile with open jaws and projecting fangs, below a coiled snout, with pierced bulbous eye and large C-scroll ear, pierced with five sets of small pairs of attachment holes, with overall green encrustation
    10 in. (25.5 cm.) high, 10 5/8 in. (27 cm.) across (2)


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    This striking pair of fittings appears to be related to a group of openwork masks in the shape of a demon's or animal's face hammered out of a thin sheet of bronze which adorned the heads of horses pulling chariots. An openwork bronze mask of a demon of similar size (26.5 cm. high) dated to the Western Zhou period, from the Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago, is illustrated by S. Fontein and Tung Wu, Unearthing China's Past, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1973, p. 48, no. 13. The authors discuss, pp. 49-50, the excavation of a chariot burial in Fengxi county, near Xian, Shaanxi province, between 1955-1957 which revealed similar thin bronze openwork masks which were fitted between the ears of the horses. The fact that the present pair of plaques is shown in profile rather than front-faced would suggest they were perhaps intended for attachment to either side of the head or to the harness.

    Similar depictions of dragon heads seen in profile with mouth agape to expose large fangs can be seen on smaller bronze fittings dated to the Western Zhou illustrated by H. Brinker, Bronzen aus dem alten China, Museum Rietberg, Zurich, 1975, pp. 157-8, nos. 130-1.

    Special Notice

    No sales tax is due on the purchase price of this lot if it is picked up or delivered in the State of New York.


    Provenance

    Estate of Dr. A.F. Phillips; Sotheby's, London, 30 March 1978, lot 10.


    Literature

    H.F.E. Visser, Asiatic Art in Private Collections in Holland and Belgium, 1947, pl. 39, no. 46.