A RARE ARCHAIC BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL, DING SHANG DYNASTY, 12TH CENTURY BC | 商公元前十二世紀 青銅亞醜鼎 《亞醜》銘
A RARE ARCHAIC BRONZE RITUAL FOOD VESSEL, DING
SHANG DYNASTY, 12TH CENTURY BC
the exterior cast and inlaid in black with friezes of cicadas and pendent blades, all supported on three splayed flat legs cast with dragons, the interior with an inscription possibly reading ya chou, Japanese wood box
20.4 cm, 8 in.
The vessel has been professionally X-rayed. The images are available upon request. The X-rays reveal that the vessel is structurally in good condition with no breaks to the legs or handles. The X-rays also reveal a rare fish pictogram in the centre of the interior beneath the encrustation that was previously undetected. As visible in the photos, there is extensive malachite encrustation which obscures some of the decoration. Minor bruises, especially the tip of the back leg.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Acquired in Japan prior to World War II.
Christie's New York, 15th September 2009, lot 296.
Notable for the crisp and linear rendering of its design band, this piece represents an unusual group of ding. Bronze ritual vessels fashioned with three flat legs in the form of menacing dragons with open mouths derive their form from pottery prototypes made from the Neolithic period. Pottery vessels of this form continued to be produced through to the Erlitou and Erligang phases, when the first bronze versions also appeared.
While ding of this type were popular through to the Western Zhou dynasty, the tall legs and shallow shape of the present example places it in the latter part of the Shang dynasty. The unusually linear rendering of the band of cicada, a generally subsidiary motif, further suggests a date in the last centuries of the dynasty, probably after the move of the capital to Yinxu, present-day Anyang in Henan province. A ding with straight columnar legs, decorated with a closely related cicada band, was unearthed at Anyang, and illustrated in Wu Zhenfeng, Shangzhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxiang jicheng [Compendium of inscriptions and images of bronzes from the Shang and Zhou dynasties], vol. 1, pl. 89, together with a ding in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology at Beijing University, pl. 88.
Vessels of this form and decorated with a band of cicada above pendant lappets are very unusual and no other closely related example appears to have been published. Ding of this type are more commonly known with zoomorphic masks or dragons, such as a slightly larger ding also unearthed at Anyang, illustrated in Zhongguo qingtongqi quanji [Complete collection of Chinese archaic bronzes], vol. 2, Beijing, 1997, pl. 57; and another, reputedly from Anyang, now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, accession no. F30549.
Bronzes bearing the inscription ya zhou include a gui vessel illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Washington D.C., 1990, fig. 38.1, p. 362. There is also a number of Shang bronze ritual vessels in the National Palace Museum with a ya chou inscription, but differently written. These include the fangding illustrated in Shang Ritual Bronzes in the National Palace Museum Collection, Taipei, 1998, pl. 97. It is believed that ya chou was a powerful clan in Shandong which flourished during the late Shang dynasty to the early Western Zhou period.
台北故宮博物院藏數件「亞醜」銘青銅器，如一件青銅方鼎，載於《故宮商代青銅禮器圖錄》，台北，1998年，圖版97。並參考一件青銅簋，刊錄於羅森，《Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections》，華盛頓特區，1990年，圖38.1，頁362。據存世鑄器考之，「亞醜」應為晚商至西周時期，山東一帶權勢強大、富裕鼎盛之家族。