Square lidded wine ewer with taotie, dragons, and birds

  • Title: Square lidded wine ewer with taotie, dragons, and birds
  • Period: Early Western Zhou dynasty
  • Dimension: H x W x D: 22.9 x 10.7 x 24.6 cm (9 x 4 3/16 x 9 11/16 in)
  • Collection: Freer Gallery of Art
  • Date Created: ca. 1050-975 B.C.E.
  • Location: China, Henan province, Luoyang
  • Type: Bronze

This lidded wine ewer was made in the early Western Zhou (Xizhou) and it continued the late Anyang tradition. The cup was carved into the shape of a dragon in Chinese myth. The dragon has two horns and has a back like horses. It is unknown for the meaning of the various animals and beasts on this vessel. The inscription carved inside the lid and the body of this wine ewer. According to the National Museum of Asian Art, it indicates, “Sheng made for his deceased Father Xin [this] valued sacral vessel”. This inscription demonstrates ancestral veneration on the one hand since its designs represented a ritual celebration of the defined ancestors’ thousands of years ago. However, expert Woon believes the inscription of wine ewer could also mean worshipping the king. I agree with Woon’s perspective because the king played an important role in politics and religion in ancient China. King is a symbol of connection to the supreme power of Tian as ancient Chinese are considered embodiments or reproducers of the creative order of Heaven. Therefore, this lidded wine ewer is very likely to be the tribute for the king or the ancestors.




Author: Jessica Wang

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