With the gently everted ends and the cusped aprons, this piece also bears a strong resemblance to early sacrificial altar tables, zu, which were used to sacrifice animals and to serve food to the dead. It is speculated that these upturned ends lent status to the table, thereby emphasizing its ritual function, and perhaps also prevented the sacrifices placed on the table from slipping off. Zu were made in a variety of materials including bronze, wood, lacquered wood and pottery. There is considerable variation in their size. For examples of zu, see Y. Yao, 'A Brief Outline of Ancient Chinese Furniture', Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Spring 1991, figs. 1a and d, and S. Handler, 'On a New World Arose the Kang Table', Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, Summer 1992, p. 22-3, figs. 1 and 2.