A RARE SET OF THREE SMALL BRONZE BELLS, NAO
A RARE SET OF THREE SMALL BRONZE BELLS, NAO

LATE SHANG DYNASTY, 13TH-11TH CENTURY BC

Details
A RARE SET OF THREE SMALL BRONZE BELLS, NAO
LATE SHANG DYNASTY, 13TH-11TH CENTURY BC
The bells of graduated size are of lenticular section and cast on each side in relief with a taotie mask below a square panel, and the hollow, tapering shank is cast with a single clan sign.
6 ¼ in. (15.6 cm.) high (largest), plexi stand
Provenance
Dr. Bruno Canto Collection, Milan, Italy, before 1954.
Literature
Mostra D’Arte Cinese (Exhibition of Chinese Art), Venice, 1954, no. 60.
Exhibited
Venice, Mostra D’Arte Cinese (Exhibition of Chinese Art), 1954.

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Lot Essay

Nao first appeared in north China in the late Shang period and continued to be made into the early Zhou dynasty. They were usually made in graduated sets of three, and were probably held upright on stands so that they could be struck from the exterior. It is rare to find an original set of nao of graduated sizes and matching inscriptions. A set of three nao bells with similar taotie decoration in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is illustrated in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the National Palace Museum Collection, Taipei, 1998, pp. 480-83, no. 82. A set of three bells with horned masks from the Western Sector of Yinxu is illustrated in Kaogu xuebao, 1979, no. 1, p. 74, fig. 71 and pl. 14 (1). A set of five bearing Ya Bi clan signs found in the Fu Hao tomb in Anyang is illustrated in Tomb of Lady Hao at Yinxu in Anyang, Beijing, 1980, pl. LXII (1), which is the only known set of five nao.

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