Height: 10 inches, 25.3 cm
Diameter at mouth: 7 5/8 inches, 19.3 cm


Bronze ritual beaker, Zun

China, early Western Zhou dynasty, 11 - 12th century BC

A bronze beaker vase, the body divided into three sections. The lower section flares outward to form the foot, which is encircled by a wide band of relief decoration that features four pairs of confronting archaistic birds on a ground of leiwen pattern. The birds have plumed heads with a bulging eye and a hooked beak, upturned wings, long curled tail feathers and hooked legs that extend backwards. This decorative band is divided into four sections by raised vertical flanges. The central section bulges gently and is cast in relief with a frieze of evenly-spaced, vertical ribs between two bands of bird pattern that are more or less identical to the band around the foot, but somewhat narrower. A single ‘bowstring’ line separates the lower and middle sections, and two parallel lines are visible just above the central section. The upper section is plain with straight sides that flare outward towards the top. A two-character pictogram inside the foot reads […] shi (archivist or historian). The vessel is partly covered in a malachite patina.

Ben Janssens Oriental Art, July 2006
Private Collection, UK