72
72
A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF A BUFFALO
WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 732,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
72
A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF A BUFFALO
WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY
Estimate
150,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 732,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

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New York

A RARE BRONZE FIGURE OF A BUFFALO
WESTERN ZHOU DYNASTY
the stocky animal cast standing four square with its head turned to the right, the body with a pattern of recessed F-shaped motifs, with spirals to the hind and forelegs, the short tail curled over the near flank, the head with its mouth open, with two long grooved horns and a diamond motif on the forehead, the underside open, the legs of hollow C-section, the bronze patinated to a smooth pale green tone 
Length 10 3/8  in., 26.4 cm 
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Provenance

Yamanaka & Co., London. 
Collection of Mrs Mary Cohen.
Sotheby's London, 14th June 1970, lot 55.
Collection of J.T. Tai. 
Sotheby's New York, 22nd March 2011, lot 39. 

Exhibited

Ancient Chinese Bronzes, Yamanaka & Co., London, December 1925, cat. no. 28.

Catalogue Note

Robustly cast in the form of a buffalo, this figure embodies the characteristics of Zhou sculpture, demonstrating the craftsmen's attempt to capture the vital energy of creatures rather than a precise and naturalistic rendering. The muscular legs and bulky body emphasize the strength of the creature, its power accentuated by the swirling linear pattern that rises from the sturdy legs and the stylized facial features with large curled horns. The open mouth and turned head give a feeling of suspended motion or latent energy.

In its powerful depiction, this figure points to the important role buffalos played in agriculture. Important accomplishments of the Zhou dynasty included advancements in irrigation, such as drainage, waterways, canals and dams. They developed iron tools during this time, including iron-tipped ox-drawn ploughs. Furthermore, soldiers wore either a sleeveless coat of buffalo or rhinoceros hide or boiled leather armor for protection.

A number of buffalos of this type are recorded and are believed to have been used as stands or feet for large vessels. Some face right while others face left, indicating they came in pairs or fours. See a closely related buffalo, possibly the companion to this piece, with the head turned in the opposite direction, illustrated in Tch’ou Tӧ-yi, Bronzes Antiques de la Chine Appartenant a C.T. Loo & Cie, Paris, 1924, pl. 19.

Related figures with sockets on the back are more commonly known; one from Earl and Irene Morse and Stoclet Collections, illustrated and exhibited on numerous occasions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in 1982, was sold in these rooms, 3rd December 1986, lot 18; another was exhibited in Chinesische Kunst, Preussische Akademie de Künste, Berlin, 1929, cat. no. 9; one, from the Kunstindustrimuseum, Copenhagen, was included in The Exhibition of Early Chinese Bronzes, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockhom, 1933, cat. no. XX; another in the Pillsbury Collection, is published in Bernhard Karlgren, A Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes in the Alfred F. Pillsbury Collection, Minneapolis, 1952, pl. 105; and a fifth example sold in our London rooms, 13th-14th November 1972, lot 230.

Important Chinese Art

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New York