"Hu" wine vessel - ROM2005_1592_8


"Hu" wine vessel

Medium:Cast bronze
Geography: China
Date: 5th century BC
Period: Eastern Zhou period
47.4 x 31.3 cm
Object number: 933.12.76
Credit Line: Bishop William C. White Collection
On view
Gallery Location:Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of China
DescriptionThis imposing hu wine container is decorated in five horizontal registers with a dense interconnected dragon pattern. The dragons are almost unrecognizable, having been reduced to a series of square elements with raised comma-shaped accents. This design is a condensed form of an interlocked dragon motif that is found on many Eastern Zhou vessels. It started off as a broad open pattern with the dragons clearly defined, but as time progressed it was reduced in size and simplified to the point of becoming abstract. When examined closely it can be seen that the decoration repeats itself at intervals and that there are divisions between the units, suggesting the use of a master pattern block to impress the design on to the mould. This is a step towards simplifying the production of bronze vessels. This vessel is one of a pair. The other is in the Historical Museum in Beijing. Both vessels are reported to have come from the tombs at Jin Cun near Luoyang, Henan province. The inscriptions on the vessels are the same, saying they were commissioned by the son of the Lord of Linghu district in the fourth month of the tenth year. Linghu was located in present-day Shanxi province, and like Jin Cun was part of the territory of Jin state until 403 BC. It has been proposed that this hu came from the tomb of a member of the nobility who served at the court of the Zhou king. Unfortunately, the date given in the inscription does not really help with the dating of the vessel. There are a number of possibilities for the tenth year of the reign of a Zhou king during the Eastern Zhou period, ranging from 562 to 392 BC. Stylistically the hu can be compared with one from a tomb which is dated to the latter half of the fifth century BC, and to an inscribed Jin state hu in the British Museum dated to the early fifth century BC. The latter is the same shape as this vessel, and has a petalled crown and decoration arranged in horizontal registers. We can therefore narrow the casting to the fifth century BC. Future scholarship may well resolve the puzzle of the 'tenth' year and give the hu a precise date.
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.