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THE GE ZU JI GUI
A LARGE BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL
THE GE ZU JI GUI
A LARGE BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL
THE GE ZU JI GUI
A LARGE BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL
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THE GE ZU JI GUI A LARGE BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL

EARLY WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, 11TH-10TH CENTURY BC

Details
THE GE ZU JI GUI
A LARGE BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL
EARLY WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY, 11TH-10TH CENTURY BC
The body is cast in low relief on each side with the disconnected parts of a taotie mask below a further band of birds centered on each side by an animal mask cast in high relief. The vessel is raised on a tall spreading foot encircled by a band of birds centered on each side by a narrow flange. The large C-scroll handles are each surmounted by an animal head and terminate in a pendent tab cast with the claws and tail feathers of a bird. A three-character inscription is cast on the base of the interior. The bronze has a silvery grey patina with malachite and cuprite encrustation.
15 in. (38 cm.) across the handles
Provenance
Robert H. Ellsworth, New York, 1998.

Lot Essay

The three-character inscription cast in the interior base consists of a single clan sign, Ge, followed by two characters, zu ji. Zu ji is a dedication which means 'dedicate this vessel' to Zu Ji (Ancestor Ji). The clan sign Ge is in the shape of a ge-halberd blade on a shaft. The Ge clan is one of the oldest and most extensive clans in the Shang and Zhou dynasties. Some of the earliest bronze vessels bearing the Ge clan mark were found in Wuguan village, Anyang city, and are dated to the early second phase of the Anyang period, circa early 13th century BC.

Gui of this type, which were used to hold offerings of grain, were popular during the early Western Zhou period. They typically feature a broad register comprising two taotie masks above a narrower register of dragons, snakes or birds that encircles the foot above the bevel, and is sometimes repeated in a narrow register below the rim of the vessel. The handles of these gui are usually surmounted by animal heads with either blunt horns or prominent C-shaped horns that lay flat against the side of the head, such as those seen on the present vessel. The sides of the handles are cast with simplified curved wings, while claws and hooked tails are cast on the pendent tabs below.

Whilst the present gui displays many of these features typical of the early Western Zhou period, it is of unusually large size and imposing proportions. A gui of comparable size (37.5 cm. across the handles), with a similarly-formed tall spreading foot, dated to the early Western Zhou period, is in the Arthur M. Sackler Collection, and is illustrated by J. Rawson in Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collection, Vol. IIB, pp. 346-349, no. 34. Several early Western Zhou gui with similar decorative format but of smaller size are illustrated in Catalogue to the Special Exhibition of Grain Vessels of the Shang and Chou Dynasties, Taipei, 1985, pp. 234-245, pls. 32- 37. A gui of smaller size (29 cm. across the handles), decorated with confronted bottle-horn dragons on the foot and with plain mouth rim, was sold at Christie’s, New York, 19 September 2013, lot 1104.

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