E Shu Gui

Food vessel, Early Western Zhou Dynasty
Height: 18.7cm
Mouth diameter: 18.2cm

During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, Gui is a kind of important ritual vessel. This piece has an open circular mouth, a hemispherical belly, and a stem foot, all set on a sturdy square base. Four handles with pendent ears are attached to the belly. The surfaces of belly, stem and base are separately adorned with dragons, flames, phoenixes and ox-heads. The base is hollow within and a small bell is in it. Inside the vessel is a six-character inscription saying the vessel is made for E Shu, a noble in the state of E.