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A BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL, ZHONG JIANG LI
A BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL, ZHONG JIANG LI

LATE WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, 9TH-8TH CENTURY BC

Details
A BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL, ZHONG JIANG LI
LATE WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, 9TH-8TH CENTURY BC
The tri-lobed body is supported on three hoof-shaped feet, and cast on the sides with raised vertical lines divided by cross-hatched borders and narrow flanges. The everted rim is cast with a five-character inscription reading "zhong jiang zuo zun li". The patina is of dark brown color.
7 ½ in. (19 cm.) diam., Japanese wood box
Provenance
Collection of Wu Shifen (1796-1856).
Fujita Museum, Osaka, acquired prior to 1940.
Literature
Wu Shifen, Meigu lu jinwen (The record of pursuing antiquity: Inscriptions from archaic bronzes), 1895, vol. 1.3, p. 31.
Wu Shifen, Meigu lu (The record of pursuing antiquity), vol. 1, p. 52.
Zhu Shanqi, Jingwuxinshi yiqi kuanzhi (Archaic Bronze Inscriptions in the Jingwuxinshi Studio), 1908, vol. 2, p. 51.
Fang Junyi, Zhuiyizhai yiqikuanzhi kaoshi (Interpretations of inscriptions from archaic bronzes in the Zhuiyizhai studio), 1935, vol. 27, p. 6.
Liu Tizhi, Xiaojiaojingge jinwen taben (Rubbings of inscriptions from archaic bronzes in the Xiaojiaojingge studio), 1935, vol. 3, p. 56.
Yinzhou jinwen jicheng (Compendium of Yin and Zhou Bronze Inscriptions), The Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, 1984, no. 523.
Wu Zhenfeng, Shangzhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxiang jicheng (Complete Collection of Inscriptions and Images of the Shang and Zhou Bronzes), vol. 6, Shanghai, 2012, p. 101, no. 2719.

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Lot Essay

The inscription cast on the everted rim may be translated, "Zhong Jiang made this ritual li vessel". Zhong Jiang is a female aristocrat whose family name is Jiang.

During the 19th century this li was in the collection of Wu Shifen (1796-1856), a native of Haifeng, Shandong province. Wu Shifen was an epigraphist, calligrapher and Secretary of the Cabinet at the court of the Daoguang Emperor (1821-1850) and was one of the great collectors of his generation. A descendant of a renowned Shandong family, Wu was also related through marriage to another prominent Shandong collector, Chen Jieqi (1813-1884). They collaborated on the ground-breaking book Fengni kaolue (Researches on clay bullae), in which ancient Chinese clay bullae were recorded and studied for the first time.

Li with striated decoration were inspired by pottery prototypes and were popular during the middle to late Western Zhou dynasty. A set of five similar li vessels with Wei Bo inscriptions was found in a hoard in Zhuangbai village, Fufeng county, Shaanxi province, and illustrated by Wu Zhenfeng in Shangzhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxiang jicheng (Complete Collection of Inscriptions and Images of the Shang and Zhou Bronzes), vol. 6, Shanghai, 2012, pp. 85-89, nos. 2702-2706. The Wei Bo li have more slender legs and taller proportions than the present Zhong Jiang li and can be dated by inscription to the latter part of the middle Western Zhou dynasty. A group of late Western Zhou li vessels with Zhong Ji inscriptions are very similar to the present li. See ibid., pp. 127-133, nos. 2746-2752.



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