This small vessel dates to the Western Zhou Period and that makes it approximately 3,000-years-old! It is outstanding for its raised handles and detailed casting.
It is in "as found" condition with its original, rich azure-blue-green patina that is so coveted by museums and collectors of ancient bronzes. This vessel has several Chinese characters cast into both the interior basin and the exterior base.
It appears that some oxidation has been professionally removed in the center of the bowl to reveal the Dragon character that was cast into the bowl. The Dragon pictograph is in ancient Chinese form called Bronze script.
The other characters are heavily covered with oxidation, so I was unable to translate all of them without removing the wonderful bronze patina. There appears to be the characters for: Man, Ancestor, Bronze Offering, and others I cant make out. Under magnification you can see them better than in the macro photos I have provided. This small, bronze vessel (called a Pan in China) dates to approximately Chinas famous Zhou Dynasty and has an elevated foot on a circular base. The exterior is decorated with a single, broad frieze on its rim that includes birdlike crests with eyes, a common motif on vessels from this period that was thought to scare away Evil Spirits.
The raised, circular base also shows a repeating lewen pattern. The casting is crude, and no attempt was made to polish away seams where the two handles were attached. It is believed that this vessel is a rare type of ritual water dish that would have continued to purify one's hands before offering sacrifice to the ancestors and gods. The top of the bowl has two, side handles that would have allowed this ritual vessel to be safely transported by a servant to his master.The use of handles also allowed the contents to remain untainted by human hands when ritual gifts of food were presented as sacrifices to the ancestors and gods. Similar bronze vessels are on display at the Palace Museum and at the National Museum in China. After being buried for about 3,000 years, this basin has a very heavy, encrustation of bronze oxidation and earthen deposits. The vessel appears to have several Chinese characters that are inscribed into the bronze which provide a short dedication, the name of the vessel type, the patron, and the ancestor to whom the vessel was dedicated. But the encrustation is so heavy, that I only have been unable to decipher and translate the ancient Bronze Script character of a Dragon that is on the inside of the basin. By late Shang times, bronze vessels sometimes came to bear short, cast, dedicatory inscriptions. The image of a Dragon inside the bowl appears to signify that this was a clan item for exclusive use by the family only. The common addition by early Western Zhou times (1046 771 BC) of the phrase May sons and grandsons forever treasure and use it. Provides evidence that most vessels were made originally for use in temple sacrifices rather than for burial, but other vessels, poorly cast and inscribed with posthumous ancestral names of the newly deceased, were clearly intended for the tomb. Ancestors & Gods in Zhou Society.
The Zhou believed there were many gods who had power over different elements and the ability to bring a variety of gifts. But mortals on Earth were unable to contact these gods directly.The ancestors, however, were able to ask the gods to bring good fortune to their living predecessors by offering sacrifices of food and wine. Large-scale sacrifices were held at regular intervals for dead kings, and sometimes queens or even consorts. Oxen, sheep, pigs and dogs were all sacrificed in large numbers. Human sacrifices were also common.
Food and drink served in bronze vessels would be offered to the ancestors at ritual ceremonies. This small, bronze, warming vessel may also have held an offering of food to the gods. Ancestor worship was very important to both the Shang and Zhou cultures. It was thought that the success of crops and the health and well-being of people were based on the happiness of dead ancestors. If the ancestors of a family were pleased, life for that family would be prosperous.
If the spirits were not pleased however, great tragedies could occur. Is almost impossible to produce by unaided human hands, and is why I think the shape was valued so much in ancient China.In ancient Chinese culture, the circle was a symbol of Heaven (Tien), while the square was a symbol for the Earth. Symbolically, the circle stands for fulfilled, oneness, perfection, and unity. More specifically, its the process of something coming full circle, as in life and death and then eternal life in Heaven that bears the most importance.
In addition, the god worshiped by everyone during the Shang dynasty was Shang Ti , the Lord on High. Shang Ti was believed to be the link between people and heavenly beings. The souls of ancestors, it was thought, visited with Shang Ti and received their instructions from him. It was therefore very important to make sure that Shang Ti was happy. This was done with various rituals and prayers, offerings, and sometimes even human sacrifices.
Thus, the use of sacrifices to the ancestors and the gods was a necessary part of their society. Bronze Sacrificial Vessels in Ancient China. A skilled craftsman made this water basin during what is called the Western Zhou Period. This ritual bronze vessel would have held water as a sacrifice to the Gods to honor the Spirit of an elite member of Zhou society as he journeyed towards the afterlifeHeavenor Tien in Chinese. Originally cast as a water purification dish for a high ranking member of the Zhou dynasty aristocracy, it is outstanding for its details, the cast inscription/dedication, the quality of its decoration, and the rich azurite-blue patina that is so coveted by collectors of ancient bronzes.In ancient China, bronze vessels played an important role in ceremonies and rituals for rulers and high officials. The ritual books of ancient China minutely describe who was allowed to use what kinds of sacrificial vessels and in what size and quantity. Vessels have been discovered that are over 5 feet high and weigh as much as 4 tons! Bronze production was carefully controlled by the emperor and bronze vessels were meant only for the elite aristocracy and their immediate families. The Chinese inscribed all kinds of bronze items with three main motif types: demons, symbolic animals, and abstract symbols. The creation of magnificent bronze vessels was highly labor-intensive, and therefore its use was confined to that of the most important rituals of ancient Shang and Zhou kings and aristocrats. The oldest Shang dynasty vessels were used in rituals centered on the sacrificial offering of food and wine to ancestors. Like elaborate banquets for the dead, foods which included meats and grains as well as rice or millet wine and sacrificial water were prepared and presented in bronze vessels and then ritually offered at family altars, often located in a separate structure within a family compound. As British scholar, Jessica Rawson, explains. These were essentially family ceremonies in which both the dead and the living took part. The dead remained an integral part of everyday society, requiring the kind of attention also given to living members of the family. The banquets or rituals were a show of respect to the dead so as to ensure that they would help their descendants by interceding on their behalf with the gods and spirits. Without help from the dead, and a proper acknowledgement of their role, human affairs might fail and their descendants suffer. This was especially so of kings, whose ancestors not only had the power to affect the fortunes of their descendants, but were semi-godlike, having power and influence over the entire population as well. Thus the most elaborate rituals-- more like ceremonies of state than the private rituals held by aristocratic families-- were performed by ancient kings. Highly decorated bronze vessels created in sets played a leading role in these rituals-- containing sacrifices and hosting their preparation.
The Chinese ancestors believed that the design of the ornaments could communicate with divinities and frighten demons as well. Therefore, to enshrine the bronze ware in the temple or tomb would do something good to them either bring them good luck or ward off evil spirits. Is still heavily encrusted with earthen deposits, as well as authentic red and blue-green oxidation of the bronze that was buried for millennia in damp soil that was rich in cuprite, azurite, and malachite. It is in as found condition. It has been in a private collection in China and Hong Kong for at many years.
Museums and modern archeological studies usually use the general term copper alloy instead of just the term bronze to describe these ancient treasures, as many other elements (such as tin, lead, zinc, iron, and even arsenic) were added to the copper to form different strengths of types of bronze items. Ancient bronze artifacts such as this zun vessel are probably about 80% copper and 20% tin, while modern bronze is closer to 88% copper and 12% tin. It has a wonderful old, patina that is absolutely fabulous: areas of a blue-green patina from the azurite and malachite in the surrounding soil.This combination of colors forms a fantastic patina that is typical of bronze that has been buried for over 1,000 years. Close examination with a microscope under natural and black light reveal it to be 100% authentic and cast by hand in a sand mold. One interesting property of bronze is that once it has oxidized superficially, a copper oxide layer is formed on the surface and essentially protects the object from further damaging corrosion. This protective layer turns in another compound, called copper carbonate for you scientists out there, which protects most bronze pieces from further corrosion. I have carefully examined this item under magnification and it shows authentic and original signs of weathering and ground contact that help to further authenticate it as an ancient piece.
It shows minor oxidation and is in very good condition. You will not be disappointed! It is a museum quality, ancient Chinese work of art. It is a wonderful piece and would look great displayed next to your other fine ancient Chinese jade and bronze pieces!
Museum of Chinese History, Beijing. The Ancestral Landscape , David N. The Great Bronze Age of China , edited by Wen Fong, MET, 1980. Changhua Annals of the Republic of China (19111949). Minneapolis Institute of Arts, online collection." Basin of Scribe Qiang ", sometimes called the Qiang Pan. , is perhaps the rarest ancient Chinese bronze pan vessel (water basin) in the world. Dated to the end of the 10th century BCE, it is inscribed with a text that has been described as the first conscious attempt in China to write history.
Low and round with two handles, the vessel is 16.2 cm tall, with a diameter of 47.3 cm. Its exterior is cast with a taotie design.It is regarded as a national treasure, and in 2002 it was listed as one of sixty-four cultural relics prohibited from leaving Chinese soil. The basin is kept at the Fufeng Zhou Plains Museum. Their beauty and investment value are not comparable to this ancient ritual bronze that is about 3,000 years old. I guarantee this bronze Dragon Basin is authentic and original! The item "Ancient Chinese Ritual Bronze Water Vessel (Pan) W.
Zhou Period +Translation" is in sale since Tuesday, April 2, 2019. This item is in the category "Antiques\Asian Antiques\China\Bowls". The seller is "houghton-usa" and is located in Sequim, Washington. This item can be shipped to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Australia.