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Asian art

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Pouring vessel (he) in archaistic style

17th century


Unknown Artist


In terms of shape, the ‘he’ dates back to the middle Shang dynasty. The popularity of this shape among Song cognoscenti can best be explained by its representation in the ‘Xuanhe bogu tu lu’ (the Xuanhe album of antiquities), a 30-volume catalogue of the Song imperial collection which was completed in the early 1100s and was the most famous and influential of the printed volumes on ancient bronze collections. This bronze in fact more closely resembles the imaginative and stylised depiction in the album than any Shang ‘he’. Its inlaid decoration exemplifies this transmutation: the use of inlays in brozes, an innovation acquired from the nomadic cultures of the Central Asian steppes, does not even appear until the post-Shang period of the Warring States (476-221 BCE).

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.77
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Place where the work was made



17th century

Media category


Materials used

bronze with silver and gold inlays


22.0 x 24.8 x 18.5 cm


Purchased 1990


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made

Referenced in 5 publications


Jackie Menzies, Antiques in New South Wales, 'Chinese Antiquarian Taste', pg. 114, Sydney, Aug 1991, cover (colour illus.), 5 (illus.), 114.

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 77 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, AGNSW Collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 189 (colour illus.).

Lisa Slade and Rachael Kirsten, Enter Art, Sydney, 2000, sheet number 2 (colour illus.). Education kit produced by the NSW Dept of Education and Training as teaching resource for primary school teachers.

Year 3 - Linking Basic Skills Tests to the Curriculum. Teaching Strategies 2002., 'Linking Numeracy and Creative Arts', New South Wales, 2002, 56 (illus.).