Prospective purchasers are advised that several co… Read more


The broad, rounded body is raised on a tall, slightly splayed foot crisply cast with three taotie masks formed by three pairs of elongated dragons confronted on heavy notched flanges. The lower register of the body is decorated with three large taotie masks with bulging eyes, each flanked by small descending kui dragons, beneath a plain, narrow band and a wider band of dragons confronted on three animal masks on the wide shoulder. The domed cover is cast with three large upturned taotie masks centered and divided by heavy notched flanges, all beneath a tall segmented knob. Each band is cast in high relief and reserved on leiwen grounds. The surface has a silvery patina with areas of malachite encrustation.
22 ½ in. (57.2 cm.) high, gold and silver-inlaid wood stand, Japanese double wood box
Fujita Museum, Osaka, acquired prior to 1940.
Masterpieces in The Fujita Museum of Art, vol. 1: Arts and Crafts, Fujita Museum, Osaka, 1954, no. 79.
Sueji Umehara, Nihon shucho shina kodo seika (Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Japan), vol. 1, Osaka, Yamanaka & Co., 1959, no. 10.
Masterpieces in The Fujita Museum of Art, Fujita Museum, Tokyo, 1972, no. 436.
Minao Hayashi , In Shu jidai seidoki no kenkyu (Conspectus of Yin and Zhou Bronzes), vol. 1 (plates), Tokyo, 1984, p. 313, pou no. 39.
Special notice
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
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Lot Essay

The pou form was popular during the middle Shang and early Yinxu periods, circa 14th-13th century BC. While most of the pou vessels were made withour covers and feature flat-cast decoration, the Fujita Museum pou, with its high-relief decoration, massive size, and a fitted cover, is one of the best of its type. It is also important to note that the Fujita Museum pou appears to be the third largest example among all the published examples of pou.

A covered pou of similar form and with similar layout of decoration, but of smaller size (50 cm. high), formerly in the collection of Fujita Tokujiro, is illustrated by Sueji Umehara in Nihon shucho shina kodo seika (Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Japan), vol. 1, Osaka, 1959, no. 11. The Fujita Tokujiro pou is decorated with backward-turned kui dragons on the shoulder whereas the shoulder of the Fujita Museum pou is decorated with confronted kui dragons. The taotie on the body of Fujita Tokujiro pou are depicted without bodies, as are those on the Fujita Museum pou. A pou vessel in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is almost identical to the Fujita Tokujiro pou but of even smaller size (45.7 cm. high). See Horace H. F., Jayne, ‘The Chinese Collections of The University Museum: A Handbook of the Principal Objects’, The University Museum Bulletin, 1941, no. 9, pp. 2-3. It is interesting to note that the Fujita Museum pou shares a very similar distinctive silvery patina with the University of Pennsylvania pou. A set of one large pou (47.6 cm. high) and a pair of smaller pou (34.2 and 33 cm. high) was found in the tomb of Fu Hao. See Tomb of Lady Hao at Yinxu in Anyang, Beijing, 1980, col. pl. 5 and pl. 29, respectively. The Fujita Tokujiro, the Fujita Museum and the University of Pennsylvania pou may also be seen as coming from the same set.

Another similar covered pou vessel of slightly smaller size (54 cm. high) from the J. Pierpont Morgan Collection, now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is illustrated in ‘Asian Art at The Metropolitan Museum’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, summer 2015, no. 10. The Metropolitan Museum pou shares the same layout of decoration with the Fujita pou, although some details of decoration vary. The Metropolitan Museum pou has extra pairs of hooked-beaked birds below bodies of kui dragons on the shoulder and extra pairs of small kui dragons below bodies of taotie on the foot. The largest pou known is a covered pou vessel bearing a Ya Yi clan sign in the Nezu Museum (62.4 cm. high), illustrated in Kanzo In Shu no seidoki, Tokyo, 2009, p. 25, no. 5. The Ya Yi bronzes were reputedly from a royal Shang tomb at Xibeigang, Anyang city (see Sueji Umehara, op. cit., no. 5). The imposing size of the Ya Yi pou does indicate an extraordinary high status, however its surface decoration is flat-cast. The layout of decoration on the Ya Yi pou also differs from the other large pou vessels cited above, as it includes two additional decorative bands, one along the rim of the cover and one above the central taotie band on the body. Another covered pou (48 cm. high) is in the Idemitsu Museum of Art, Tokyo, illustrated in Selected Masterpieces from the Idemitsu Collection, vol. 1, Tokyo, 1986, no. 164. The cover of Idemitsu Museum pou has a narrow band of decoration similar to that on the cover of Ya Yi pou. A covered pou found in Huangcai township, Ningxiang county, Hunan province (42.5 cm. high), now in the Hunan Provincial Museum Collection, is illustrated in Min Fanglei and Selected Bronze Vessels Unearthed from Hunan, Shanghai, 2015, pp. 138-147, no. 11. The Hunan pou features a sculptural coiled dragon as the knob of the cover, a trait which can also be found on the pou (60.7 cm. high) in the Tokyo National Museum, a gift of Mrs. Sakamoto Kiku, illustrated by Robert W. Bagley in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Cambridge, 1987, p. 108, fig. 136.

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