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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, said to be from Anyang, Henan Province, Shang Dynasty, Late Anyang Period
Title: Square Wine Bucket (Fangyou)
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -110
Creation End Date: -105
Creation Date: c. 1100-1050 BC
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Metalwork
Materials and Techniques: bronze
Dimensions: Overall: 26.7cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1963.103
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Context: This compact, neatly structured vessel is a wine container used in the ritual banquets offered to deceased ancestors in early Bronze Age times. Composed of bronze--an important and valuable man-made alloy of copper and tin, frequently with added lead inChina--such objects underscore the significance of Chinese ancestor worship. To conduct the rituals properly, aristocrats and other members of the elite needed a range of vessels representing a number of different functions, so containers like this one would have been used with others, including wine warmers and cups, grain steamers, and meat cookers. In fact, the cast dedication on this fangyou--naming a certain deceased "Lady Qi"--links it to bronzes in other museums, all presumably made at the same time for the same person. Although not specifically made for burial, ritual bronzes were frequently entombed with their owners. The museum's fangyou was probably buried in the same grave as pairs of "Lady Qi" jue (wine warmers) and gu (beakers), also unearthed earlier this century. Once shiny, these metal objects now have the greenish surface, or patina, characteristic of bronze that has been exposed to oxygen, water, and other substances. Patination actually sealed the lid onto the Cleveland vessel, creating a vacuum that impeded the corrosion process. The fangyou was recently reopened, and its inner walls proved as fresh and coppery as a new penny. This bronze is said to have been excavated at the late Shang dynasty capital of Anyang, suggesting that it was made in a metropolitan foundry in the greatest city of the time. Such foundries must have been large, judging from the number, size, and weight of Anyang bronzes that have survived to modern times. Chinese production methods that involve the use of ceramic section molds rather than lost wax differ from Near Eastern practices. As employed in ancient China, the section-mold system created objects, their surface decoration, and inscriptions in one casting operation, which accounts for the close structuralrelationship between vessels and their ornament. On the striking Cleveland fangyou, paired bands containing tense, crested birds occupy the convex and concave surfaces of each side of the square container. The symmetrical designs are divided and framed by discontinuous projecting ribs that reflect the decorative registration in the vessel silhouette. These ribs also reinforce the fundamental architectural character of the shape, an effect further enhanced by the design of the tall peaked lid. The variousbirds with their bent tails as well as the rigid geometry of the vessel are unusual for a period when rounded vessels influenced by ceramic shapes were particularly popular. K.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1963.103
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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