Bronze hu (ritual wine vessels)
From Shanxi province,
Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th century BC
These hu were made at the Jin State Foundry in Houma, Shanxi province, where bronze casting in the north became centred in the Eastern Zhou period (771-221 BC). They carry identical inscriptions around the lower flange of their lids, beneath their petalled crowns. The inscriptions record the casting of the hu by Zhao Meng, a minister of Jin State, on the occasion of a meeting between the states of Jin and Wu in 482 BC. At such meetings, states sought to conclude agreements or alliances.
The decoration on the bronzes is identical. The main register of each hu has four taotie, or monster faces. The designs were created using pattern blocks carved in clay with the decoration in relief. The mould sections for the eight faces were made from a single pattern block. Many impressions could be taken from the pattern blocks, thus this technique was an early form of mass production. Many such piece moulds have been found at the Jin State Foundry.
J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)
J. Rawson, Chinese bronzes: art and ritua (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)
Diameter: 17.000 cm (at lip)
Asia OA 1972.2-29.1.a, b
Gift of Mrs. U.E.K. Cull