Lot 101
  • 101


40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • bronze and Paulownia wood box
well cast in oval section, the slightly compressed pear-shaped body raised on a splayed pedestal foot encircled by a bowstring band, cast in high relief on each side of the neck with a tapir head centred over a band of taotie interrupted by loops attached to the tapir-head terminals of the overhead arch handle, the slightly waisted domed cover with wedge-shaped tabs projecting from either end and decorated with a similar taotie band, echoing the designs on the body, surmounted by a ring-shaped knob, with nine-character inscription on the inside of the vessel and repeated on the cover, the surface of brown and mottled green patina with malachite encrustation to the exterior and interior, Japanese wood box


Collection of Professor Seiichi Mizuno (1905-1971), according to inscription on box.
Mayuyama & Co., Ltd, Tokyo, acquired between 1960 and 1975.


Tokubetsu tenji Chūgoku no bijutsu hitori no me [Special exhibition Chinese art: an eye of one], Kuboso Memorial Museum of Arts, Osaka, 1984, no.16.


Hakutsuru kikkin shū [Ancient ritual vessels from the collection of the Hakutsuru Museum], Hakutsuru Art Museum, Kobe, 1934, pl. 13.
Jung Keng, ‘The Bronzes of Shang and Chou’, Yenching Journal of Chinese Studies, Monograph Series, no. 17, vol. 2, Beijing, 1941, pl. 332.
Ryūsen Shūhō. Sōgyō shichijū shūnen kinen/Mayuyama: Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. 2, pl. 21.
(Inscription) Noel Barnard and Cheung Kwong-Yue, Rubbings and Hand Copies of Bronze Inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, European, American and Australian Collections, vol. 6, Taipei, 1978, pl. 520.
Minao Hayashi, In Shū Jidai seidōki no kenkyū. In Shū seidōki souran [Research of bronze ware of Shang and Zhou dynasty], vol. 1, Tokyo, 1984, pl. 216.
Wu Zhenfeng, Shangzhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxian jicheng [Compendium of inscriptions and images of of bronzes from the Shang and Zhou dynasties], vol. 24, Shanghai, 2012, pl. 13231.

Catalogue Note

The nine-character inscription inside the cover and on the interior of this vessel may be translated as:

Shou made this precious ritual vessel for Father Yi, Zi Dian.

Outstanding for its remarkably preserved crisp decoration of long-tailed dragons over a leiwen ground, which compliments the elegant pear-shape body, this you is characteristic of vessels made in the early Western Zhou dynasty, as seen in its slightly compressed form and the projecting triangles on the cover. Bronze you are sacrificial wine vessel that emerged as one of the major ritual receptacles in the late Shang dynasty and remained prominent until the middle Western Zhou dynasty.

This you is similar in form to the Zhao you, attributed through its inscription to the reign of King Zhao (circa 977/975-957 BC), in the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, illustrated in Shanghai Bowuguan cang qingtongqi [Ancient bronzes in the Shanghai Museum], Shanghai, 1964, pl. 38; and the Zuo Ce Huan you, also attributed to the reign of King Zhao, recently sold in our New York rooms, 17th September 2013, lot 8.

Further related you, but lacking the pair of tapirs’ heads on the cover, include one published in Jessica Rawson, Western Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 2B, Washington D.C., 1990, pl. 72; another, illustrated in Sueji Umehera, Selected Relics of Ancient Chinese Bronzes from Collections in Japan, Osaka, 1959, vol. 1, pl. 75; and a third, from the R. E. Luff collection sold in these rooms in 1973, at Christie’s London in 1978, and in our New York rooms, 9th December 1983, lot 52. See also one, the cover cast with four tapirs’ heads, included in the Illustrated Catalogue of an Exhibition of Ancient Chinese Bronzes, Yamanaka & Co., London, 1925, cat. no. 4.