Square lidded ritual ewer (fanghe) with taotie


Historical period(s)
Early Western Zhou dynasty, ca. 1050-975 BCE
H x W x D: 22.3 x 21 x 14.1 cm (8 3/4 x 8 1/4 x 5 9/16 in)
China, Henan province, Luoyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel

casting, China, inscription, mask, taotie, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE), WWII-era provenance

Possibly excavated at Luoyang, Henan Province, China, in 1928. [1]

Tonying and Company, New York to 1933. [2]

From 1933
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company, New York in 1933. [3]


[1] See Curatorial Remark 2, A.G.W., 1944, in the object record. See also, Curatorial Remark 7, Keith Wilson, March 2009, in the object record.

[2] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[3] See note 2.

Previous Owner(s)

Tonying and Company


The eyes, brows, horns, ears, snout, mouth, and legs of the taotie on the surface of this pitcher can be difficult to identify at first glance. This archaistic style of decoration might have been purposefully chosen to recall ancient times, but the practice of casting lengthy commemorative inscriptions was a recent innovation. The full inscription records events surrounding a royal gift of wine and cowry shells, and the last four characters name a family or a clan group that apparently served as court scribes or chroniclers. Since at least three other known bronze vessels bear the same inscription, this fanghe was likely part of a wine set created at the same time.

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

Copyright with museum