- Museum number
Bronze vessel of the type called zun. The vessel has an expansive, trumpet-shaped mouth, angular shoulder and deep rounded body and an outward sloping, slightly stepped foot-ring with three cross-shaped holes in it. The holes are aligned with the seams of the moulds, which divide major areas of decoration around the belly and bisect the small projecting high-relief buffalo heads on the shoulders. The lower part of the vessel and the foot-ring are repaired. The three relief buffalo heads on the shoulder contrast with the taotie ornament (Style III) on the lower part of the belly. Above the taotie is a similar scroll and relief band, but this time without being symmetrically centred on a pair eyes. The third band of decoration is on the vessel's shoulder between the buffalo heads. This register (in Style II) is bordered above and below by a band of small circles. Bowstring lines decorated both the neck and the foot.
- Production date
- 13thC BC (circa)
Diameter: 21.70 centimetres (at lip)
Height: 23.70 centimetres
Weight: 3.40 kilograms
- Curator's comments
- Rawson 1987:
An expansive, trumpet-shaped mouth, angular shoulder and deep rounded body are features borrowed from high-fired ceramic vessels; examples in low-fired ceramic are also known. An outward sloping, slightly stepped foot-ring has been added. Three cross-shaped holes were probably left by projecting ceramic spurs used to separate the moulds and the foot core during casting. The holes are aligned with the seams of the moulds, which divide major areas of decoration around the belly and bisect small projecting animal heads on the shoulders. The lower part of the vessel and the foot-ring are repaired.
The three relief buffalo heads on the shoulder contrast with taotie embedded in Style III scrolls and quills on the belly. Around the vessel's shoulders similar scrolls and relif bands resolve themselves into birds. This register is bordered by small circles, an early feature. Below the shoulder diagonal lines and scrolls enclose eyes that cannot be read as belonging to creatures.
Similar zun have been found at Zhengzhou, decorated both in early thread relief and with relief bands, as here; rare examples carry large curling flanges. The British Museum's vessel probably belongs to a slightly later time; it resembles vessels from early tombs at Anyang. In the second half of the Anyang period shouldered zun were often replaced by cylindrical vessels based upon the gu. However, the earlier shape did not entirely disappear, and late Shang examples can be identified both by their inscriptions and by their late types of decoration.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Registration number