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.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Mr. R.J. Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 41, p. 233.
  • compiled by the staff of the Freer Gallery of Art. A Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes: Acquired During the Administration of John Ellerton Lodge. Oriental Studies Series, no. 3 Washington, 1946. p. 50, pl. 23.
  • Grace Dunham Guest A.G. Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 3.
  • Chen Mengjia. Yin Zhou qing tong qi fen lei tu lu (Yin-Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i fen lei t'u lu). 2 vols., Dongjing. A 331.
  • Chin wen tsung chi. Taipei. p. 2480.
  • W. A C. H. Dobson. Early Archaic Chinese: A Descriptive Grammar. Toronto. pp. 202-204.
  • Keng Jung Chang Wei. Yin Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i t'ung lun (A Survey of Shang-Chou Bronzes). Peking. cat. 119.
  • Keng Jung. Shang chou i ch'i t'ung k'ao: Researches in Ceremonial Vessels of the Shang and Chou Dynasties. Peiping. pl. 251.
  • Keng Jung. Shan chai i ch'i t'u lu (Illustrated Catalogue of Bronzes in the Collection of Liu T'i-chih). Chinese texts and studies 3 vols., Peking. pp. 29, 34ff, pl. 107.
  • Shang Chou chin wen shi ch'eng. multi-vol., Taipei. cat. 4854.
  • Wu Qichang. Chin wen li shuo shu cheng (Studies on the Dates of Bronzes of the Chou Dynasty). 2 vols., Shanghai. .
  • Sheng-wu Yu. Chi chin wen hsuan (On Bronze Inscriptions). Peiping. .
  • Moruo Guo. Liang Chou chin wen tzu ta hsi tu lu kao shih: Inscriptions on bronzes of the Chou period. Tokyo. p. 5.
  • Luo Zhenyu. Liao chu tsa chu: Miscellaneous writings during my residence in Liao. pp. 1-4.
  • Hsu-lun Ma. Ling Nieh i: The Ling Nieh bronze vessel of the type "i". vol. 4, no. 1 Beijing. pp. 1-4.
  • Lan T'ang. Tso ts'e Ling tsun chi tso ts'e ling i ming k'ao shih: A study of the inscriptions of the "tsun" of the scribe Ling and the "i" of the scribe Ling. vol. 4, no. 1 Beijing. pp. 21-29.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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