Four-Sheep-Head Pou


Vessel for containing wine, Late Shang Dynasty
Height: 38.8cm
Mouth diameter: 31.6cm
Bottom diameter: 29.1cm

The artifact's name is derivative of four sheep heads molded on the shoulder.

The vessel is grand and solemn. Exquisite designs can be seen around its body. Four homologous ridges are separately cast on the belly and ring base. Such ridges jutting out of the body are designed to enhance the decorative effect and gloss over the mold line left by metal founding.
The most imposing decoration is the four sheep heads in high relief with crooked horns and bulging eyes. Two single-horn, single-foot, open-mouth and curving-tail dragons attend each sheep head on the left and right. Ridges in the form of phoenix separate its belly area.

During the Shang Dynasty, phoenix represented the goddess of wind while dragon represented the god of water. They are widely used as decorative motifs on bronzes. It is obvious that both wind and water play a major role in a society where an agricultural economy dominates.