Distinctively modeled in an expressive style suggesting its Northern origin, bronze stags of this type originally served as ornaments on the lids of bronze drums or storage vessels. See a bronze lid fragment adorned with four very similar stags on the top, included in the exhibition "Animal Style" Art from East to West, Asia House Gallery, New York, 1970, cat. no. 96. Compare also a closely related bronze stag offered in these rooms, 28th May 1991, lot 112. In addition, see a similar bronze stag of a larger size, in the Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot, published in Zhongguo meishu quanji qingtongqi [Complete collection of Chinese arts. Archaic bronzes], vol. 2, Beijing, 1986, pl. 165; and another related example, modeled standing, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, published in Edmund Capon, Art and Archaeology in China, Melbourne, 1977, pl. 45.