- Museum number
Bronze vessel of the type called you. This large, thinly cast vessels is deocrated in three registers. On the neck is a dense background of hatching, below of which the belly is decorated with coiled snakes. On one side a small reptile is tucked in above the snakes. The same snake pattern is also on the footring. The vessel's lid is lost.
- Production date
- 8thC BC (circa)
Height: 62 centimetres (to handle)
Height: 35.80 centimetres (to lip)
- Curator's comments
This large, unusual vessel is a southern provincial bronze. It copies the profile of a metropolitan you of the latter part of the early Western Zhou; the vessel's enormous size, unconventional motifs and slightly rough finish betray its provincial origins.
As discussed in the Introduction, metropolitan bronzes were introduced to south-eastern China in the middle Western Zhou, when bird-decorated vessels were in vogue. A you from Tunxi in Anhui province is a product of this contact (Fig. 21). However, few south-eastern bronzes follow the mtropolitan model as closely, Like the British Museum's you many are large, thinly cast and bizarrely decorated.
Pairs of coiled snakes on the belly of the you are probably a local motif two stages removed from the coiled dragons of no. 23. In between stand vessels such as a zhi in the Shanghai Museum decorated with deeply sunken spirals. On one side of the British Museum's you a small reptile is tucked in above the snakes. A dense background of hatching is based upon impressed patterns employed on ceramics of the area.
[This entry dates the vessel to the Middle to Late Western Zhou.]
In the major Eastern Zhou states, ritual vessels were as central to court life as they had been under the Shang and Western Zhou periods. Great care and attention went into their manufacture, and fixed canonical forms were developed. Casters in Henan, Hubei, Hebei, Shangdong, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces perpetuated the shapes and motifs of the late Western Zhou. Thus there was a large central area in which a consensus existed as to what were the correct ritual shapes, and which had deliberately espoused Western Zhou ancient ritual practices. Outside this central area were people less closely bound to standard ritual practice, using unusual vessel types. People living in the east, for example, continued to use shapes and motifs that had been eliminated in the west during the ritual upheaval of the 850's BCE when, in a dramatic revision of the ritual vessel repertoire, all the shapes and much of the decoration were radically altered. Therefore, the wine bucket, or 'you', survived in this area. This piece, for example, is an undoubted descendant of an early Zhou bronze (such as BM 1988.0422.1) and has not been affected by the late Zhou changes to the ritual vessel repertoire. This distinct school of casting remained influential in the east and its special features were also adopted further south and southwest.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number