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A RARE BRONZE CHARIOT SHAFT FITTING

WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, 11TH/10TH CENTURY B.C.

Details
A RARE BRONZE CHARIOT SHAFT FITTING
Western Zhou Dynasty, 11th/10th Century B.C.
The almond-shaped shaft with an adze-shaped projection, the shaft cast in high relief with a three-clawed coiling dragon on each side, their bodies with equally-spaced dotted stripes, a scrolled horn above the large circular, pierced eyes and jutting fangs protruding from the mouth, the dragons on each side forming a single taotie-type mask when viewed from the front, the adze-shaped projection cast in relief with two stacked taotie masks facing the shaft, with allover malachite and cuprite encrustation
8¼in. (21cm.) high
Provenance
Reputed to have been found in Xun county, southeast of Anyang, in Henan province
The Collection of Sir Neill Malcolm, K.C.B., D.S.O.
The Collection of Dugald Malcolm, sold Sotheby's London, March 29, 1977, lot 20
The Collection of the British Rail Pension Fund, sold Sotheby's London, December 12, 1989, lot 10
Literature
William Watson, Ancient Chinese Bronzes, London, 1962, pl. 34b (detail)
Exhibited
International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935-6, no. 265
Paris, Musée Cernuschi, La Decouverte de l'Asie, Hommage à René Grousset, 1954, no. 387
Sale Room Notice
Under PROVENANCE please note that this fitting was lot 19 in the sale of the Collection of Dugald Malcolm, Sotheby's, London, December 12, 1989, and that a similar fitting from the Dugald Malcom Collection was included in the sale of art from the British Rail Pension Fund, not the present fitting. Under LITERATURE please note that the present lot is not one of the two illustrated by William Watson in Ancient Chinese Bronzes, but two similar examples in the British Museum (pl. 34a) and the Dugald Malcom Collection (pl. 346).

Lot Essay

The companion mount from the David-Weill Collection, was exhibited in Venice, 1954, Catalogue, no. 57, and is illustrated by Daisy Lion-Goldschmidt and Jean-Claude Moreau-Gobard, Chinese Art, Bronzes, Jades, Sculpture, Ceramics, New York, 1980, rev. ed., pl. 32

A similar fitting with variations in detail from the Raphael Bequest is illustrated by Jessica Rawson in Ancient China, Art and Archaeology, London, 1980, pl. 73. The author states (p. 102) that "the coiled dragons on this bronze are seen on some of the earliest Zhou bronzes, presumably cast in Shaanxi" and refers to the present bronze as its companion piece

See, also, Kaogu, 1980:4, pp. 362-364, figs. 3, 5 and 6 for line drawings of how such fittings attached to the chariot and a similar fitting of more simple design discoverd in a Western Zhou chariot-and-horse pit at Keshengzhuang, Chang'an, p. 363, fig. 4

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