String anchor for a se (zither-like instrument)

citation

Square bronze socket with a projecting circular cap at one end. Heavily encrusted dragon forms in high relief decorate the top of the cap. Two irregular openings on the underside of the cap and on two sides of the square tube. The open end of the tube is damaged. Mottled green patina.

Historical period(s)
Eastern Zhou dynasty, 480-221 BCE
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x W: 5.4 x 4.3 cm (2 1/8 x 1 11/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1979.14
On View Location
Currently not on view
Type

Zither string anchor (se)

Provenance

Probably unearthed near the site of the ancient city of Shouchun (in the modern province of Anhui). [1]

To 1924
Orvar Karlbeck. [2]

From 1924
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased by Carl Whiting Bishop from Orvar Karlbeck. [3]

Notes:

[1] According to Bishop’s unpublished report, Archaeological Research in China, 1924-34, Mr. Karlbeck had acquired nearly all the objects near the site of the ancient city of Shouchun (in the modern province of Anhui). See Curatorial Remark 2 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

[3] Curatorial Remark 2 and 3 in the object record. The object was transferred from the Freer Study Collection (Bishop Collection) to the permanent collection in August 8, 1974. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office. For further information also refer to “Part IV, List 2: A Complete List of Objects in the Bishop Collection” from Sarah L. Newmeyer’s Interim Report (1976), copy in the Carl Whiting Bishop Collection file, Collections Management Office.

Description

Square bronze socket with a projecting circular cap at one end. Heavily encrusted dragon forms in high relief decorate the top of the cap. Two irregular openings on the underside of the cap and on two sides of the square tube. The open end of the tube is damaged. Mottled green patina.

Label

Note: (Kate Theimer, 28 February 1996) As of this date, this entry contains the most complete information regarding this object. All information from the object file has been entered. Original correspondence relating to this object may be found in the object file in Office of the Registrar. All comments after this one will be in chronological order.

1. Original folder sheet note indicates name of source and location at date of acquisition. Source address listed in this record is most current.

2. (H.C. Lovell, 1971) This object bearing the "X" number and referring to the "Karlbeck List" is probably from the group of objects purchased from Orvar Karlbeck in April, 1924 by C.W. Bishop. An account is given in Bishop's unpublished report Archaeological Research in China, 1924-34, pp. 143-144. "Nearly all of the objects Mr. Karlbeck had obtained in person at the place where they had been unearthed, near the site of the ancient city of Shou Ch'un (in the modern province of Anhui), the last capital of the ill-fated kingdom of Ch'u and only occupied during the few years immediately proceding the conquest of that state by Ch'in in 223 B.C." I have failed to locate The Karlbeck List. See also Karlbeck's article on Shou-Chou objects in the Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 1955.

3. (Kate Theimer, drawn from project written by Sarah L. Newmeyer, 25 April 1995) Carl Whiting Bishop was a member of the Freer Gallery staff who made a series of expeditions to China for the purpose of acquiring objects for the collection. The first expedition (1923-1927) was funded jointly by the Freer Gallery and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The second expedition (1929-1934) was sponsored solely by the Freer. The 758 objects he acquired were accessioned into the Study Collection and were known as the Bishop Collection. Bishop acquired objects by both purchase and excavation. When the method of acquisition is known, it has been indicated in this record. The Freer Gallery Archives contain extensive primary information about Bishop and the expeditions, including Bishop's journal, 4,000 photographs of sites and of many objects, correspondence, and check stubs.

4. (Jenny So, 27 September 1995) Subject changed from "fitting" to "string anchor for a se (zither-like instrument)."

For identification and function of these objects, normally occuring in sets of four, see So and Bunker, Traders and Raiders on China's Northern Frontier (Washington, D.C. and Seattle: 1995), no. 72.

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