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A VERY RARE BRONZE RITUAL WINE VESSEL AND COVER, FANGYI
A VERY RARE BRONZE RITUAL WINE VESSEL AND COVER, FANGYI
A VERY RARE BRONZE RITUAL WINE VESSEL AND COVER, FANGYI
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A VERY RARE BRONZE RITUAL WINE VESSEL AND COVER, FANGYI
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A VERY RARE BRONZE RITUAL WINE VESSEL AND COVER, FANGYI

LATE SHANG DYNASTY, ANYANG, 12TH CENTURY BC

Details
A VERY RARE BRONZE RITUAL WINE VESSEL AND COVER, FANGYI
LATE SHANG DYNASTY, ANYANG, 12TH CENTURY BC
The slightly tapering, rectangular vessel is cast in crisp, high relief on a leiwen ground on each side with a large taotie mask set between two confronted, long-tailed birds above and two dragons with backward-turned heads on either side of an arched opening on the foot below, all divided by narrow, notched flanges repeated at the corners and also on the cover where the taotie masks are inverted on each slightly convex side below the faceted finial. A single pictogram is cast in the interior base of the vessel and on one interior wall of the cover and may be read as a clan sign. The surface has a mottled blue-green and milky blue-green patination on a cuprite ground.
8 ¾ in. (22 cm.) high
Provenance
The collection of Mr. & Mrs. Rafi Y. Mottahedeh, New York.
Property from the Estate of Rafi Y. Mottahedeh (1901-1978), New York: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 4 November 1978, lot 318.
J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 1992.
The collection of Daniel Shapiro, New York.
Literature
J. J. Lally & Co., New York, Chinese Archaic Bronzes, Sculpture and Works of Art, New York, 1992, no. 21.
D. Shapiro, Ancient Chinese Bronzes, A Personal Appreciation, London, 2013, pp. 86-91 and 136.
J. J. Lally & Co., New York, Chinese Archaic Bronzes: The Collection of Daniel Shapiro, New York, 2014, no. 10 and cover.
Exhibited
New York, J. J. Lally & Co., Chinese Archaic Bronzes Sculpture and Works of Art, 2 - 27 June 1992, no. 21.
New York, J. J. Lally & Co., Chinese Archaic Bronzes: The Collection of Daniel Shapiro, 14 March - 5 April 2014, no. 10.

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Lot Essay


Fangyi, which were wine containers, appear to have been one of the most prized of ritual vessels of the Shang dynasty, as thay have been found in fewer and more sumptuous tombs than more common shapes such as gu, jue and ding. In Ancient Chinese and Ordos Bronzes, p. 92, J. Rawson and E. Bunker, in their discussion of the fangyi, note that during the Shang dynasty vessels of this rare type were used in pairs, as seen in the tomb of Fu Hao, illustrated in Tomb of Lady Hao at Yinxu in Anyang, Beijing, 1980, pls. XVIII (2) and XIX (1 and 2). Sets of ritual bronzes found in several other tombs at Anyang include a single fangyi. The most similar of these fangyi is the one found in 1983 in Tomb M633 at Dasikong, Anyang, illustrated in Ritual Bronzes Recently Excavated in Yinxu, Yinxu, 2008, pp. 108-109 and pp. 92-93, pl. 24, illustrating the set of bronzes, which includes the fangyi, two jue, two gu, two ding, a gui and a pou. The shape of the Fu Hao and Dasikong fangyi and the decoration and its placement are similar to that of the present vessel. Another similarly decorated fangyi of similar form, from the collection of Mrs. Walter Sedgwick, is illustrated by W. Watson, Ancient Chinese Bronzes, London, 1962, pl. 18a. See, also, the fangyi illustrated by M. Hearn, Ancient Chinese Art: The Ernest Erickson Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1987, pp. 28-29. On all of the vessels the motifs are similar, but not identical.

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