Bowl in the shape of a yu


Historical period(s)
Shang dynasty, ca. 13th-11th centuries BCE
Unglazed burnished pottery
H x Diam: 11 x 16.8 cm (4 5/16 x 6 5/8 in)
China, Henan province
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


China, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE), WWII-era provenance

J.E. Melchior, Shanghai [1]

To 1982
Helen D. Ling (died 1982), Shanghai and Singapore, acquired from J.E. Melchior, to 1982 [2]

From 1982 to 1984
Dr. Tien Gi Ling, Singapore, bequeathed by Helen D. Ling in 1982 [3]

From 1984
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dr. Tien Gi Ling in 1984 [4]


[1] According to information supplied by Dr. Ling, Helen Dalling Ling acquired this object from the J.E. Melchior collection. Helen Dalling Ling operated The Green Dragon antiques shop in Shanghai from 1938 to 1950, and a shop under her own name in Singapore from 1951 to 1982 (see Curatorial Note 5 in object record).

[2] According to Curatorial Note 5 in object record.

[3] Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s)

Mr. Tien Gi Ling
Helen D. Ling died 1982
J. E. Melchior Collection


Shang dynasty gray wares were inexpensive substitutes for the more costly bronze ritual vessels. This sturdy, high-footed bowl was turned on a wheel. The applied bosses and incised vertical decoration are derived from contemporary bronze prototypes.

Published References
  • H. W. Siegel Helen D. Ling. Early Chinese Potteries and Porcelains of the Shang, Chou, Chin, Han Dynasties: Collection of the Late J.E. Melchior. Shanghai. cat. 1.16.
  • Sarah Booth. The Freer's Rare Catch: Gallery Acquires 30 Flawless Ancient Chinese Ceramics. Washington, May 23, 1984. p. B2.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum