Lot 58
  • 58


50,000 - 70,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • bronze
  • 37.4 cm, 14 3/4  in.
the boat-shaped vessel raised on four dragon-shaped scroll feet and with a curved U-shaped spout, the body cast with horizontal concave ribs with a wide band of zoomorphic S-shaped motifs below the rim, set to one side with a large mythical beast loop handle, the dark brown patina with areas of malachite encrustation


Collection of Alphonse Kann, Paris. (Collection number 365).
Seized by the Nazis in October 1940.
In deposit at the Jeu de Paume museum (ref. Ka 121). 
Transfered at Altaussee salt mine art center, Austria.
Restituted to owner in July 1947.
Collection of He'le'ne Kann-Bokanowski, Paris. 

Catalogue Note

With the crisply moulded deep grooves covering the surface which both echo and accentuate its form, this vessel is a handsome example of yi produced in the late Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1046-771 BC). The boat-shape form together with a U-shaped spout appears to have been derived from earlier gong vessels, and remodelled with a deeper body and four dragon-shaped scroll legs. Bronze yi was used together with water basins (pan) in ritual ceremonies for the cleansing of the hands. The robustness of the vessel provides an attractive contrast with the well-defined zoomorphic band beneath the rim, along with the large mythical beast loop handle.

Compare a similar yi, with a five-character inscription, in the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, published in Zhongguo qingtongqi quanji, vol. 6, Beijing, 1998, pl. 147; one from the Bella and P.P. Chiu Collection, illustrated in Jessica Rawson, The Bella and P.P. Chiu Collection of Ancient Chinese Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1988, pl. 31, and sold in these rooms, 7th June 2000, lot 12; one with inscriptions from the collection of Mrs Walter Sedgwick, illustrated in William Watson, Ancient Chinese Bronzes, London, 1962, pl. 49a; another excavated from a site of the state of Zeng in Jingshan county, Hubei province, illustrated in Hubei jingshan faxian zengguo tongqi [Bronze vessels of the Zeng state discovered in Jingshan, Hubei], Wenwu [Cultural Relic], 1972, vol. 2, pp. 51; and a fifth example, sold at Christie’s New York, 22nd/23rd March 2012, lot 1511.