Chinese / Spouted ritual wine vessel (Guang) / Shang dynasty, early Anyang period (ca. 1300-ca. 1050 B.C.), 13th century B.C.Chinese
Spouted ritual wine vessel (Guang)
Shang dynasty, early Anyang period (ca. 1300-ca. 1050 B.C.), 13th century B.C.

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Spouted ritual wine vessel (Guang)
Title Type: Object name
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -129
Creation End Date: -120
Creation Date: Shang dynasty, early Anyang period (ca. 1300-ca. 1050 B.C.), 13th century B.C.
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Metalwork
Materials and Techniques: bronze
Dimensions: W. 13 in. (33 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 43.25.4
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1943

Loosely based on the image of a bird, as can be seen from the hooked beak and glaring eyes at its front, this rare example of a ritual vessel known as a 'guang' was used to pour wine or other potent beverages in ceremonies linking the rulers of the Shang dynasty (ca. 1500-1050 B.C.) with their ancestors and supernatural forces. The metamorphic imagery that defines this vessel typifies bronzes cast at the late Shang (ca. 1300-1050 B.C.) capital of Anyang, Henan Province, in north-central China: the coiled serpents emerging from the wings are accompanied by roaring tiger-dragons prowling along the sides; the horned bird that serves as a handle miraculously becomes a short-tailed dragon-serpent. All of these details, carefully cast in high relief, are set against a low relief background of linked spirals known as thundercloud motifs (leiwen). This container was cast using several ceramic piece molds, a method that had no parallel in the ancient world. In this technique, ceramic molds carved with complicated multilayered designs were assembled around an interior clay core. Molten bronze was then poured into the space left between the mold and the core. After the bronze had cooled and hardened, the ceramic molds were broken to reveal the vessels. Time and precision were required to make bronze vessels in this fashion, and the control of the raw materials, labor, and technology needed to make such objects was one of the prerogatives of the ruling elite during the Shang dynasty.

AMICA ID: MMA_.43.25.4
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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