Lidded ritual wine container (you) with taotie and dragons


Historical period(s)
Late Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1100-1050 BCE
H x W x D: 36.1 x 26.9 x 23.6 cm (14 3/16 x 10 9/16 x 9 5/16 in)
China, Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel

Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), casting, China, dragon, mask, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), taotie, wine, WWII-era provenance

Reportedly excavated in Anyang, Henan province, China [1]

From 1939 to 1940
C.T. Loo & Company, New York from September 26, 1939 [2]

From 1940
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C.T. Loo & Company on July 10, 1940 [3]


[1] According to undated curatorial remark, in object file.

[2] See C.T. Loo's stockcard no. 86536: "Bronze Jar with cover, Shang," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. The object was brought to the Freer Gallery for examination on November 6, 1939.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated July 10, 1940, copy in object file. According to Loo's stockcard, the vessel was sold on July 15, 1940.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950


This you is decorated with elaborate relief designs of taotie, as well as bands of design that draw attention to the container’s foot, body, neck collar, and lid. Four types of dragons enliven the vessel surface. Such fierce animals show a range of artistic imagination among designers at Anyang during the Bronze Age. A bird motif (left) inside the container and lid might represent a family or clan.

Published References
  • Daniel Freeman. Shang Bronzes in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Princeton. pp. 76-81, fig. 22.
  • 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. 49, pp. 278-283.
  • 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. pp. 6-7, 37-38, pls. 16-17.
  • Grace Dunham Guest A.G. Wenley. Annotated Outlines of the History of Chinese Arts. Washington, 1949. p. 2.
  • 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 584.
  • Ludwig Bachhofer. A Short History of Chinese Art. New York. pl. 14.
  • Meng-chia Ch'en. Style of Chinese Bronzes. vol. 1 Honolulu, 1945-1946. pp. 36-37, pl. 3, fig. 14.
  • Chin wen tsung chi. Taipei. p. 2767.
  • Keng Jung Chang Wei. Yin Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i t'ung lun (A Survey of Shang-Chou Bronzes). Peking. cat. 173.
  • Bernhard Karlgren. Some New Bronzes in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. no. 24 Stockholm. fig. 39.
  • James Legge. The Chinese Classics. 5 vols., Hong Kong and London, 1865-72 and 1893-5. pp. 358, 445.
  • William Hung. A Concordance to Shih Ching (Mao shi yin de fu biao jiao jing wen). Sinological Index Series 2 vols., , suppl. no. 9. Peiping. p. 56.
  • Michael Kampen O'Riley. Art Beyond the West: The Arts of Western and Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia, China, Japan and Korea, the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas., 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ. pl. 4.6.
  • Charles Seymour. Tradition and Experiment in Modern Sculpture. Washington. p. 9.
  • Shang Chou chin wen shi ch'eng. multi-vol., Taipei. cat. 5586.
  • Michael Sullivan. The Arts of China., 3rd ed. Berkeley. p. 24.
  • William Watson. Early Civilization in China. Library of the early civilizations London, 1966. p. 99.
  • A. E. K. Cull, James K. Cull, W. Perceval Yetts. The Cull Chinese Bronzes. London. no. 3.
  • Mario Bussagli. Chinese Bronzes. London and New York. p. 79, pl. 34.
  • Wen-hua ta-k'e min ch'i chien ch'u-tu wen-wu/Wen hua da ge ming qi jian chu tu wen wu. Beijing. p. 31.
  • p. 193, fig. 8.1.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum