This spectacular lamp belongs to a distinctive group of bronze lamps popular during the Han dynasty which were cast in the shape of a bird's foot and known as yanzu deng (goose foot lamp). The present lamp, however, is distinguished by the striking silhouette of the support, representing the simplified body of a bird, and the powerful, naturalistic rendering of the foot with pronounced talons. Most other published lamps of this type are smaller in size and have more simply rendered legs, such as the late Western Han example measuring 35 cm. high excavated in 1992 in Linzi, Shandong province. See Zhongguo Qingtongqi quanji, Beijing, 1998, vol. 12, p. 108, no. 106. Two other examples of this more simplified type are illustrated in Important Inscribed Ancient Chinese Bronze Vessels from the Li Yingshuan Collection, The Shanghai Museum, 1996, pp. 22-4, nos. 30 and 31. Both lamps bear lengthy inscriptions which provide the date of manufacture (in both cases, 33 BC), the maker and patron, the weight, and the place for which the lamp was intended (in both cases, the interior of the Imperial Palace).
A bronze lamp dated Qin or Western Han dynasty, 3rd or 2nd century BC, with similar support, powerfully modeled claw and quatrefoil, leaf-shaped base is illustrated by R. Krahl in Sammlung Julius Eberhardt - Frühe Chinesische Kunst, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 118-9, no. 52. Unlike the present lamp and the others noted above, the Eberhardt lamp is surmounted by a bird's head which grasps the lamp ring in its beak.