- Gallery Text
Although there are no contemporaneous records explaining the meaning of the decorations on Shang bronzes, the preponderance of zoomorphic motifs and the emergence of animal-shaped vessels made of bronze or jade are clear indications of the importance of animals in the repertoire of Shang artisans. The principle Shang motif was the animal mask, referred to in later texts as a taotie. This enigmatic image (seen repeatedly on vessels in the adjacent cases) is not identifiable as any one beast but appears to be a composite of creatures both real and imagined, with two stark eyes, horns, ears, and fangs. During the late Shang period (14th–11th century BCE), animal-shaped vessels began to be cast, perhaps in response to zoomorphic bronzes introduced from southern China. The guang wine vessel displayed here is a magnificent example — it cleverly incorporates a tiger at the front of the vessel and an owl at the back handle; the animals’ heads are represented on the lid and their more subtly rendered bodies are on the vessel.
- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- 'Guang' Covered Ritual Wine Vessel with Tiger and Owl Decor
- Other Titles
Original Language Title: 觥
Alternate Title: 'gong'
- Work Type
- 13th 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 with pale green patina
- H. 25.0 x W. 31.5 x D. 10.6 cm (9 13/16 x 12 3/8 x 4 3/16 in.)
Weight 1020.58 g
- Inscriptions and Marks
- inscription: two ideographs cast on vessel floor
- Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
- THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT BY THE TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION TO THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS.
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- Publication History
Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), no. 035, pp. 30-31
Takayasu Higuchi, ed., Chugoku bijutsu, dai 4-kan (Chinese Art in Western Collections vol. 4: Bronze and Jade), Kodansha (Tokyo, Japan, 1973), pl. 24
Chen Mengjia, Yin Zhou qingtongqi fenlei tulu (A corpus of Chinese bronzes in American Collections), Kyuko Shoin (Tokyo, Japan, 1977), A 651
Yumiko Suefusa, "In Shū seidō iki no bi—jikō no kikei to sōshoku" ["Yin and Chou Bronzes with Special Reference to Ssü-kuang Type Receptacles"], Kobijutsu, No. 55, pp. 29-61, March 1978, no. 2
Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 5, p. 15
Robert W. Bagley, Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation and Arthur M. Sackler Museum (Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, Mass., 1987), p. 113, fig. 150; p. 370, fig. 63.2; p. 414, fig. 73.2
James Cuno, Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Ivan Gaskell, and William W. Robinson, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, ed. James Cuno, Harvard University Art Museums and Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 52-53
Harvard University Art Museums, Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 3
Daniel Shapiro and Robert D. Mowry, Ancient Chinese Bronzes: a Personal Appreciation, Sylph Editions (London, 2013), pp. 119, 120, fig. 2.
- Exhibition History
S427: Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/20/1985 - 04/30/2008
Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 06/01/2013
32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
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