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Fanglei vessel

Fanglei vessel

for liquids
Anyang Era (approximately 1300 – 1050 B.C.)
Northern China
H : 49.3 cm ; L : 30.9 cm ; Diameter : 27.3 cm ; H (under the lid) : 40.3cm

This work is characteristic of fanglei from the Anyang Period (approximately 1300 – 1050 B.C.). It has three handles; two, placed at shoulder height, are used to lift the container. A third, below the belly, is embellished with a bovine head. At shoulder height, a ram mask in high relief decorates the main face of the container. Motifs in very light relief cover the rest of the piece. All belong to a thematic vocabulary used during the Shang Era. Their distribution can be closely compared to other antique fanglei. On each side of the base, the heads of two kui dragons, placed in mirror symmetry, are rendered as grimacing and stylized taotie masks. Large triangles, interpreted by some authors as cicada wings, tokens of immortality, decorate the belly. Large taotie masks with tall horns cover the interior space. Above, below shoulder level, whirlpool motifs alternate with other grimacing taotie. On the shoulder itself, large dragons, with arched bodies and half-open mouths full of sharp teeth, are depicted across a broad plane. The neck and the lid repeat the motifs present on the vase body. All of these elements stand out against a background of square spirals evoking the “thunder” (leiwen) character. The readability of different figures and their weak relief lead us to place the piece in the 12th century B.C., at a date earlier than most fanglei that show motifs in strong projection, characteristic of the late Shang Dynasty. Inside of the neck, two characters, “[Tribute to] Father Xin [of the clan of] toads” (translation by Pr. Li Ling), invoke the name of an ancestor. The beautiful deep green finish was partly sanded to give it a “tiger” aspect, a style substantiated during the 1930s and particularly valued by Japanese collectors.

Auteur de la notice : Gilles Béguin
Collection : Shang Dynasty (about 1550-1050 B.C.)
Mode d'acquisition : Donation from the Airbus Company, 2000.
  • Vase Fanglei

Vase Fanglei
© Musée Cernuschi