Antiques, Artifacts & Fine Collectibles. Ancient Chinese Bronze Tripod Wine Cup (Jue). Classic Taotie Design & Ritual Offering Inscription.
Tripod Bronze Wine Vessel (Jue). 7.5 (192 mm) high x 6 (150 mm) wide. It is heavily encrusted with earthen deposits and red, green, and blue oxidation of the bronze that was buried for millennia in damp soil rich in cuprite, malachite, and azurite. This ancient, wine pouring vessel is missing the lower half of the bronze handle that is in the shape of a dragon (see photo # 6). The dragon-shapped handle appears to have been subject to excessive oxidation while buried or.
Erhaps an ancient casting flaw lead to this break. Been in a private collection in Hong Kong for at least 70 years. Undocumented reports suggest it was discovered by farmers in 1938 and has been in private collections since that time.Research suggests that the rhinoceros (a military officers symbol) and the oxen (a symbol of faithful service and sacrifice) are symbols of a military officer who served the state and perhaps died in battle. Most Shang bronzes found in museums and in private collections probably originated from the site of Anyang, Honan. Anyang is an enormous site that we know from written records (oracle bones) was the last capital of the Shang dynasty. Excavations began there in 1928, were interrupted only by World War II, and continue today. The site is divided into three parts: buildings; workshops, foundries, and kilns; and an immense royal graveyard with enormous tombs. The city was surrounded by the countryside from which the food supply came. This ancient Chinese Ritual Bronze Wine Vessel (called a Jue in Chinese) stands about 7.5" tall x 6" wide (19.2 cm tall x 15 cm wide). It was designed to stand on tall, thin, tripod legs to both heat and then serve warm wine to the aristocracy of ancient Chinas upper class over 3,000 years ago. This Jue is surmounted by a pair of posts capped by mushroom tops with sunken whorl patterns (see photos # 7 & 10), all raised on a leiwen ground of cloud swirls. Both the inner and outer surfaces are thickly covered with a pale, blue/green, bronze oxidation patina that collectors and museums covet. This Jue has a wonderful old, patina that is absolutely fabulous: a greenish patina from the malachite in the surrounding soil, a dark red patina from the cuprite in the soil, and a bright blue color that is from the azurite in the soil. This combination of colors forms a fantastic patina that is typical of bronze that has been buried for over 3,000 years. When serving the heated wine, the server would have held vessel by the two, top posts or finials, because the lower part of the bronze Jue would have been very hot from heating over a fire.
There's a lot of decorative elements and a lot of skill, craftsmanship, a lot of time went into the process to create this. This was a very expensive wine cup and reserved only for the very wealthy in ancient China 3,000 years ago. Bronze vessels, such as this Jue, were made to honor royal ancestors and as offering to the Gods.I believe this Jue was dedicated by a son to his father--a military officer. As early as the Shang dynasty, complex, beautifully decorated vessels for food and wine were placed in the tombs of the deceased to invoke blessings on the living. This covered vessel has a fierce Taotie (also called T'ao-t'ieh) monster on the front of the vessel to scare away Evil Spirits, who were thought to inhabit both Heaven (Tien) and Earth.
The vertical center flange, which acts as the nose of the Taotie , has several Shang Dynasty characters (words) cast into the sides. The t'ao-t'ieh mask is a common design on ritual Shang vessels. The symmetrical face is formed around the central flange with intense round eyes, expressive C-shaped horns, and S-shaped mouth. The fierce looking mythological creature cast in relief on sides if this jue is called a Tao-tie or Tao-tieh in Chinese.
This zoomorphic beast was first appeared in Chinese mythology during the Hongshan Culture (3500 BC2100 BC) and was thought to be the 5. Of the Nine Sons of the Dragon. Little is known of the ancient meaning of the Tao-tie.He famous Tao-Tie is believed to have been a grand spirit monster that was thought to drive away evil spirits and protect the owner from harm. The extended eyes were thought to scare away evil spirits and the mouth could devour ones enemies in a single gulp. The high-relief ridge that runs vertically down the wine pouring vessel is the Tao-ties nose. Some experts believe that the mysterious Tao-tie has something to do with the death and the after world, as its image is commonly found on the vessels used for sacrifices. While other experts believe that the Tao-tie was meant to guard the entrance to the after world and to keep out evil spirits.
The Tao-Tie cast into this wine vessel is late Shang Dynasty period correct and matches perfectly the examples on display at the Smithsonian's Freer & Sackler Galleries website and other fine museums worldwide. The fantastic Taotie mask is magical in itself as it contains an optical trick. At first glance, one can see the elements of the face, such as the eyes, horns, and jaws. However, when one covers up half of it, there appears to be two creatures (dragons) that meet in profile at the center.Each horn, eye, and jaw belongs to a separate being whose body stretches out into lower claws and an upper tail. One cannot see both at the same time, recalling the more famous optical trick of the rabbit/duck. English Translation of Early Chinese Written Words (Pictograms)Large Seal Script Inscription. This 3,000 year-old ritual bronze vessel contains a number of inscriptions that were cast into this bronze jue when it was created. The pictographic characters on these Shang Dynasty bronzes are the earliest form of a written language in ancient China.
Modern archeologists call these early pictograms Large Seal Script as they have been found as a permanent record that was written by scribes on both oracle bones of cattle and on ritual bronze artifacts. As stated above, some of the bronze oxidation has been professionally removed by the previous collector in order to be able to read the wonderful pictographic characters (called Large Seal Script) that tell us why this bronze vessel was created and for whom. Although many of the characters are very faint or partially covered by oxidation, here are some of the words Ive translated.There appear to be about 6 characters on the underside of the spout. It appears to be offering a sacrifice to the ancestors. The ancestor is standing and the libation of wine is been presented to him. The idea is very clear that the son of the deceased is offering to the ancestors a libation of wine. There are at least 4 characters under the small pouring handle that is in the shape of a dragon and that has partially corrode away. The most interesting character is that of an tripod amphora or Jue of sacred wine (see photos # 5-6). This ritual sacrifice of wine was offered to please the ancestors and gods as they welcome the spirit of the departed into heaven. Each of the outer sides of the tripod legs has at least one character on each leg. The lower three portions of the Jue that are separated by the tripod legs also have one character on them. The inside of the Jue is heavily encrusted and oxidized (see photos # 7-10), thus making it impossible to see any characters that were cast on the inside of the vessel. Bronze Sacrificial Vessels in Ancient China. A skilled craftsman made this wine cup during what is called the Anyang Period of the Shang Culture, which lasted from about 1300 BC to 1030 BC. This ritual bronze vessel would have held rice or millet wine as a sacrifice to the Gods to honor the Spirit of an elite member of Shang society as he journeyed towards the afterlifeHeavenor Tien in Chinese. Originally cast as a spectacular ritual wine vessel for a high ranking member of the Shang 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.
The stylistic and technical advances in casting ritual, bronze vessel, as well as the dedication cast into the sides of the wine warming cup, suggest that piece was crafted during the Anyang Period, which is also called the High Yinxu phase of the powerful Shang Dynasty. This style was popular from the 13. 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. The Shang dynasty is important because it was the first Chinese dynasty to have left written records and those records reveal the cultural choices that provided the subsequent Zhou and Han dynasties with their historical background. The manufacture of bronze is what distinguishes the Shang period from the earlier Neolithic period in China. Historical records mention another ruling group, the Xia, as preceding the Shang, but no archaeological site has been found yet to prove this, so it remains a matter of speculation.The Shang period is usually divided into three phases. Anyang (after around 1300 BC), also known as the Yinxu phase. Based on a comparison to known examples in museums to height, style, and inscriptions, this zun dates to approximately the Anyang period of the famous Shang Dynasty. The Shang warlords and kings are recognized by their fine, cast bronzes, particularly their bronze vessels in which food and wine were offered to the ancestors. The earliest known bronzes have been found at Yanshi Erlitou in the northern province of Henan. A site with a city located at the modern town of Zhengzhou was probably constructed by about 1500 BC. A massive city wall, specialized workshops and buildings of differing standing, all indicate a highly organized and stratified society. At this stage, the influence of the Shang must have been very great, as bronze vessels in the metropolitan style (in terms of shape and decoration) have been found at widely separate sites across Shaanxi, Anhui, Hubei and Henan. The major site of the late Shang period was at Anyang. Notable discoveries include large palace buildings, workshops, burials both of kings and nobles, and deposits of oracle bones. The large numbers of inscribed oracle bones and bronze inscriptions found at Anyang are China's earliest known examples of writing. They also serve to validate many later historical records, as a number of the inscriptions include the names of kings. It was at Xiaotun that perhaps the most impressive of the bronze-casting industry of the royal Shang kings ordered the production of fine, ritual, bronze vessels to communicate with the Shang ancestors and the gods in Heaven, especially the supreme god Di. Bronze production was strictly controlled by the royal family, and the elite members of Shangs upper class were strictly limited as to the type and number of ritual bronzes that they could take to the afterlife with them in their tombs. 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 with part of the dragon handle on the side missing from excessive, in ground oxidation (see photo # 6).
It has been in a private collection in China and Hong Kong for at least 50 years. Undocumented reports suggest it was found by farmers in 1938 and has been in private collections since that time. 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). Smithsonian Museum, Sackler & Freer Gallery, WDC.
It will come with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) from Ancient Civilizations. Their beauty and investment value are not comparable to this ancient ritual bronze that is about 3,000 years old. I guarantee this wine cup is authentic and original! The item "Ancient Chinese Ritual Tripod Bronze Wine Warming Cup (Jue) Shang Dynasty Art" is in sale since Thursday, March 21, 2019.This item is in the category "Antiques\Asian Antiques\China\Glasses & Cups". The seller is "houghton-usa" and is located in Sequim, Washington.
This item can be shipped to United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, Australia.