The thirty-two-character inscription may be translated, "In the first month of the year, on the day ding hai, the son of the Duke of Cai's son, Shu Tang, made this wine flask. May he enjoy a vigorous old age without limit. May sons and grandsons forever treasure it and use it in sacrifices."
This vessel is similar to related or identical hu excavated at sites of early Spring and Autumn date in southern Henan and northern Hubei province. A very similar hu and cover, with related bands on the body and an almost identical wave band on the neck, was excavated in 1972 from a hoard in Gaodian, Weishan, Henan province, which included inscribed vessels that were produced by the Huang state and belonged to the early Spring and Autumn period. See Li Xueqin, Studies on Newly Unearthed Bronzes, Beijing, 1990, pp. 151-2. As the states of Cai and Huang were not far from each other in southeastern Henan, it is not surprising that vessels from the two states would resemble each other. Another very similar hu, with a cover, was also found with a large group of bronzes at Henan Xinzheng Lijialou, which are dated 7th-6th century BC, and are associated with the state of Zheng. See Li Xueqin, Eastern Zhou and Qin Civilization, Yale University Press, 1985, pp. 84-6.