Serving vessel with lid (dun) and dragons and ducks


Historical period(s)
Warring States period, Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th century BCE
H x W: 15.3 x 16.4 cm (6 x 6 7/16 in)
China, Shanxi Province, purportedly from Liyu
purportedly from Liyu
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Serving vessel with lid

casting, China, dragon, duck, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), Warring States period (475 - 221 BCE)

Probably excavated at Li-yu in northern Shanxi, China in March 1923 [1]

From 1923 to 1932
Madame L. Wannieck [2]

From 1932
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Madame L. Wannieck, of Paris in 1932 [3]


[1] Thomas Lawton, Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480-222 B.C., exhibition cat. (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1982), pg. 32, cat. no. 4. Also see object file, undated folder sheet note 3, notes from L. Wannieck, as well as, object file, undated folder sheet note 5, Carl Bishop.

[2] See note 1. Also see object file, undated folder sheet note 1.

[3] See note 2. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s)

Madame L. Wannieck


The ellipsoidal food vessel stands on a small undecorated flaring foot. Only a narrow horizontal concave register at the upper edge of the rim of the bowl interrupts the full swelling contours. Two circular handles appear on opposite sides of the bowl. The low rounded lid is unadorned except for three small ducks that serve as legs when the cover is inverted and four miniature masks that overhang the lower edge of the lid to keep it in position. Enlivening the seated ducks and miniature masks is a meticulous combination of textural motifs. That naturalism contrasts with the stylized interlaced bands that appear on the bowl and circular handles.

The Freer dun is said to have been unearthed in 1923 at Liyu in northern Shanxi Province. The precision of the bronze casting--appearing almost as though the designs were engraved--and combination of abstract and naturalistic decoration are characteristic of bronzes associated with the well-known site.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum