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Title

: A Chinese Bronze Wine Vessel

Author

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Date

1941

Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Of the Chinese bronzes lately added by Alfred F. Pillsbury to his distinguished collection now exhibited at the Institute, one of the most striking is a wine vessel of the tsun group. Dating probably from the early Chou period, perhaps around 1000 B.C., it exhibits a bold and lively type of décor not represented on other bronzes in the collection.It is a handsome piece, with a rounded body, widely flaring lip, and an exuberant quality that derives alike from the unusually wide, deep flanges, and the bold and vigorous technique. The décor is arranged in three wide bands and consists of five elements common in Shang and early Chou bronzes: the monster mask, spiral background, gaping dragons, rising blades, and an excessively elongated dragon incorporated into the blade pattern.The lower register carries two monster masks on a finely detailed spiral background, the division of the mask coinciding with the heavy flanges running from the lower mid-section to the edge of the base. The same motif appears on a larger scale in the middle register. The upper section, which occupies the entire throat of the vessel, is decorated with a band of lively, gaping dragons above which are four rising blades divided in the center by the flaring upper portion of the flanges. Running the length of each half of the blades is the elongated dragon, its head turned back, upon a spiral background.The decoration is executed in high, bold, and rather broad relief; a technique that, with the absence of any decorative detail on the animal forms, gives the bronze its exceptionally clean and forceful character. This quality, together with the strong, pierced flanges, emphasized its individuality and makes it stand out even in the high company in which it now finds itself. Visitors who watch with interest the growth of this splendid collection will find it a noteworthy addition to the original group.
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Source: "A Chinese Bronze Wine Vessel," <i>The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin</i> 30, no. 3 (January, 1941): 14-15.
Rights: ©MIA
Added to Site: March 10, 2009