- Museum number
Bronze vessel, ding.
This smooth rounded, otherwise undecorated, ding bears highly idiosyncratic bird motifs. Three pairs are compressed into a narrow border, each pair lying between the mould seams whose traces are aligned with the centres of the legs that are decorated with triangular ornaments. The birds have small heads, prominently large eyes, curved open beaks, round compressed wings and long horizontal tails with intriguingly hooked feathers. Their equally long crests carry similar hooks.
Made of bronze.
- Production date
- 1050BC-771BC (circa)
Diameter: 26.80 centimetres (at lip)
Height: 32.20 centimetres (to handles)
- Curator's comments
- Rawson 1987:
This smooth rounded ding bears highly idiosyncratic bird motifs. Three pairs are compressed into a narrow border, each pair lying between the mould seams whose traces are aligned with the centres of the legs. The birds have small heads, prominently large eyes, curved open beaks, round compressed wings and long horizontal tails with intriguingly hooked feathers. Their equally long crests carry similar hooks.
This sort of bird motif never appears on Shang bronzes. It is indeed extremely rare, being found on only six other published bronzes. These are a gui on an integral square base in the Sackler Collections; a gui on a high moulded foot-ring in the Shanghai Museum; two almost identical gong of rectangular cross-section - one in the Brundage Collection in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, and another in the Art Museum, Princeton University; a you known only from a reproduction in the catalogue of the Qing dynasty Imperial Collection - Xi Qing gu jian; and a fang ding in the museum at Baoji Xian, Shaanxi province.
Of these vessels the gui on a square base is the best known. It was published by Umehara Sueji as one of a set of vessels thought to coem from a tomb at Shaanxi Baoji Xian. The group was known only from a photograph, obtained by Umehara in Taiwan, in which a number of vessels, the gui included, were shown standing on and around a rectangular altar or jin. Most of the vessels have subsequently been identified in Western collections; the altar was rediscovered in Tianjin. Holes in the altar designed to take three vessels have proved to be the wrong shape and size to hold any of the vessels illustrated in the photograph. Nor are the vessel types consistent with what are now known to have been the typical vessel sets of the early Zhou period. Suggestions that the vessels in the photograph, including the gui, are part of the contents of a single pre-conquest or early Western Zhou tomb are therefore without foundation. On the other hand, the discovery of the fang ding at Baoji does suggest that vessels with this idiosyncratic bird decoration probably come from Shaanxi province.
- On display (G33/dc3b/s3)
- Acquisition date
- Registration number