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A bright green-grey cast bronze vessel that stands on three thin, pointed legs, has a wide body, and a top lip that protrudes out on both sides. The body is decorated with a vague engraved pattern and has a handle on the side.

A bright green-grey cast bronze vessel that stands upright on a grey background with the top spout pointing left. It stands on three thin, pointed legs that are shown with one being closer to the viewer and the other two behind on both sides. It has a wide body that is decorated with a vague engraved pattern and has a handle on the side facing the viewer. The top lip protrudes out on both sides, the right coming to a point and the left coming to a long, thick spout.

Gallery Text

At its most basic level, casting bronze entails pouring a molten mixture of copper and tin into a mold and letting the mixture harden as it cools. In ancient China, the actual process was quite complex and involved ceramics technology in virtually every step. First, a model of the desired shape was created in clay and fired in a kiln; next, fresh clay was packed around this ceramic model, removed in multiple sections, and fired; and finally, the hardened section molds created in this process were reassembled around a ceramic core with space set between core and molds, and molten bronze was poured into this assemblage. The production of bronzes in China was inextricably linked to the region’s millennia-long ceramics tradition — in its use of kiln technology, its adaptation of ceramic vessels for bronze vessel shapes (such as the tripod ewer displayed here), and the creation of a casting method reliant on a potter’s skills.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
'Jue' Ritual Wine Vessel with 'Taotie' Decor
Work Type
16th-15th century BCE
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Shang dynasty, c. 1600-c. 1050 BCE
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1740, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age
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Physical Descriptions

Cast bronze; Zhengzhou phase, Erligang type
H. 18.6 x L. 16.6 x W. 6.8 cm (7 5/16 x 6 9/16 x 2 11/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[J. J. Lally & Co., New York, 1995], sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 1995.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Shumei Culture Foundation Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Exhibition History

  • 32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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