Ritual bronze vessels had political and religious significance for the Shang peoples. More importantly, ancestors were ritually worshipped for it was believed their spirit held the power to influence the lives of their descendants. Distinguished by its taut profile, excellent proportions, and crisply cast-incised decoration, this beautiful and rare vessel would have held wine during the solemn ritual ceremonies that typified aristocratic Shang society. The principal motif of nearly all Shang bronzes, and to which all other decor was subsidiary, was a type of full-face animal mask called the t'ao-tieh. Though difficult to detect, this sacred image is encountered in the largest panel on each side of this exquisite chia, which features an overall graphic decor. The accompanying ornament also depicts stylized animals as is typical of much Shang art. Fang chia are among the rarest ritual vessels of the Bronze Age.