A RARE RITUAL BRONZE WINE VESSEL, FANGLEI, WITH COVER AND INSCRIPTION
Early Western Zhou c.11th Century B.C.
This is solid material - DI best
2.First Auction of Sotheby's Hong Kong, 16 November 1973, Lot 6
27 x 46 cm
Raised on a rectangular flared foot, each facet of the high-shouldered tapering body cast with a band of whorl bosses in between
two sets of triple and double bowstring bands interrupted at centre by a raised animal mask on facade and a pair of loop handles
with large circular rings issuing from beast masks on two sides, with another loop handle in same design on the lower body on one
side, the tall neck cast on each facet with a taotie animal mask with raised bosses as eyes symmetrically divided at centre by a
short flange, the rectangular domed cover similarly cast with a band of whorl bosses in between a double and a single bowstring
bands interrupted at centre by the same raised animal mask on facade, all beneath the tall faceted finial also in domed shape
with incised animal mask patterns on all sides, the interior of the cover cast with a three-character inscription, with areas of light
green patina on the overall smooth dark metal surface
The three-character inscription reads Shi zuo yi, which literally means Shi made this vessel. Shi was the family of scribes, an important
clan during the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties, and members of the family were settled in widespread regions across central
China. Archaic bronzes with inscription of the family were mostly found in Tengzhou and Sishui, Shandong, while some scattered
were found in Baoji and Yaoxian, Shaanxi, also in Anyang, Henan.
Fanglei was mostly used by members of the royal family or high nobilities during the late Shang and early Western Zhou periods for
ritual ceremonies. It is a wine containing vessel with relatively large size and volume, and it is in much fewer numbers than bronze
lei in circular form, as well as other ritual wine vessels like zun, gu and jue. A bronze fanglei (M11:99) with similar shape, pattern
and design, also inscribed with the clan insignia Shi, was found in 1994 from the excavation of a late Shang to early Western Zhou
tomb M11 in Qianzhangda, Tengzhou, Shandong, see Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) ed.,
Tengzhou Qianzhangda mu di (Qianzhangda Cemetery in Tengzhou), 2005, vol.1, fig.199, p.275-279.
1.Formerly in an Old Japanese Collection before World War II (c.1930s)
2.First Auction of Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 16 November 1973, Lot 6
1. Liu Yu & Lu Yan eds., Jin chu Yin Zhou jin wen ji lu (Corpus of Recently Discovered Inscriptions from the Yin & Zhou Dynasties), 2002,
2.Wang Tao & Liu Yu eds., A Selection of Early Chinese Bronzes with Inscriptions from Sotheby’s and Christie’s Sales, 2007, no.333.
3. Wu Zhenfeng, Shang Zhou qing tong qi ming wen ji tu xiang ji cheng (Corpus of Inscriptions and Images of Bronzes from the Shang
& Zhou Dynasties), 2012, vo.25, p.72, no.13780.