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
Vessel in archaic 'gu' form with wooden stand
Place where the work was made
Song dynasty 960 - 1279 → China
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
Where the work was made
Shown in 1 exhibition
Conversations through the Asian collections, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Oct 2014–28 Feb 2016
Referenced in 1 publication
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 76 (colour illus.).