Skip to content


An image of Vessel in archaic 'gu' form by


Vessel in archaic 'gu' form
Other titles:
Vessel in archaic 'gu' form with wooden stand
Place of origin
Song dynasty 960 - 1279 → China
Media categories
Metalwork, Woodwork
Materials used
bronze with gold and silver inlays; wooden [stand]

25.5 x 14.8 cm:

a - vessel; 23.1 cm

b - stand - wooden; 3.3 cm

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Asian Collection Benefactors' Fund 1997
Accession number
Lower Asian gallery
Further information

This bronze vessel demonstrates the persistence of a taste for antique bronzes that was sustained throughout Chinese history by the literati. It takes the shape of the 'gu', an ancient form of ritual wine goblet of the Shang and Zhou dynasties that was re-interpreted and copied during the Song to Ming dynasties. The flaring upper part is decorated by four blades which contain motifs of schematic 'taotie' masks, dragons and geometric patterns. The blades may well represent the cicada, a symbol of rebirth associated frequently with burial objects. In each of the upper four quarters are dragons with open jaws and curved horns. Below, the zoomorphic motifs in the four sections can be viewed as two groups and form two 'taotie' masks. Over the whole body of the vessel the animal motifs are rendered in inlaid gold and silver sheet metal and wires, against a backdrop of 'leiwen', or thunder pattern.

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.76
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales

Bibliography (1)

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 76 (colour illus.).

Art Set
Add this work to your own Art Set.