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gu

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1939,0522.2

  • Description

    Bronze vessel of the type called gu. It is rather short in proportion to its height. At the centre, front and back, are fairly conventional taotie faces without horns; in their place, eyebrows lie above eyes completely filled by their pupils. Pairs of comma-shaped confronted dragons around the foot are more unusual. Vertical divisions of triangular ridges, banded with closely packed intaglio lines alternating with smooth areas to make a chevron pattern, are the most distinctive features of the gu.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1200BC-1050BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 20.6 centimetres
    • Diameter: 13.3 centimetres (at lip)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        inside the foot
      • Inscription Language

        Chinese
      • Inscription Content

        戈祖癸
      • Inscription Comment

        It starts with the graph for dagger-axe (ge), here a clan sign, and followed by the ancestor designation Zu Gui.
  • Curator's comments

    Rawson 1987:
    After jue, gu were perhaps the most common Shang ritual vessels. This gu has a relatively early shape, being rather short in proportion to its height. The shape notwithstanding, both the inscription and decoration are typical to the late Anyang period. At the centre, front and back, are fairly conventional taotie faces without horns; in their place eyebrows lie above eyes completely filled by their pupils. Pairs of comma-shaped confronted dragons around the foot are more unusual.
    Vertical divisions of triangular ridges, banded with closely packed intaglio lines alternating with smooth areas to make a chevron pattern, are the most distinctive features of the gu. Similar gu include a vessel from tomb M856 in the western sector of Yinxu at Anyang, a gu in a Chinese collection and a third in the Fujii Yurinkan in Kyoto. A number of other vessels with this distinctive banded decoration are known, including a jue, also from Yinxu (Fig. 8). Inside the foot the gu carries an inscription starting with the graph for dagger-axe (ge), here a clan sign, and followed by the ancestor designation Zu Gui.

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  • Bibliography

    • Rawson 1987 cat. no. 9 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1939

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1939,0522.2

Gu. Inscription. Made of bronze.

Gu. Inscription. Made of bronze.

Image description

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Object reference number: RRC11347

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