Lidded ritual wine container (hu) with masks and dragons


Historical period(s)
Early Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 13th century BCE
H x W: 17.6 x 11.5 cm (6 15/16 x 4 1/2 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), wine, WWII-era provenance

From 1947 to 1949
C.T. Loo & Company, New York, from August 1947 [1]

From 1949
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C.T. Loo & Company on May 10, 1949 [2]


[1] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. CHL 7/942: "Small bronze hu with cover," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, copy in object file. According to an annotation on the stockcard, the object was imported directly from China. In January 1948, Loo brought the object to the Freer Gallery for examination.

[2] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated May 10, 1949, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s)

C.T. Loo & Company active 1908-1950


Between 1600 and 1300 B.C., pottery and bronze production continued their active dialogue, exchanging shapes, decorations, and production techniques. Although the shouldered gray earthenware container (lei) is a potter's shape, its dramatic interlocked T design occurs more often on bronzes. The contrast produced by the stamped textured background and the bold, smooth bands of interlocked T's, parallels the effect of the large, masklike motifs against the carefully executed spiral ground. At the same time, serrated vertical ridges commonly used on gray pottery were copied on bronzes.

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. 4, p. 41.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 2, p. 153.
  • Jessica Rawson. Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 2 Washington and Cambridge, MA. p. 388, fig. 44.3.
  • Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture., July 2009. p. 183, fig. 5a.
  • 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 683.
  • Cheng Te-k'un. Archaeology in China. 3 vols., Cambridge, England. pl. 51d.
  • Chinese Art Society of America. Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 4. p. 66.
  • Sekai kokogaku taikei (Archaeology of the World). 16 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1962. pl. 62.
  • Sueji Umehara. In-kyo (Yin hsu: Ancient Capital of the Shang Dynasty at An-yang). Tokyo. pl. 101.
  • Sekai bijutsu zenshu (A Complete Collection of World Art). 40 vols., Tokyo, F1951-1953. cat. 59.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum