Vase lei 罍


Entre -1050 et -771
Bronze, Fonte, Fonte au moule
Objet religieux, Vase
Legs : Cernuschi, Henri

M.C. 440

This vessel for fermented beverages belongs to a very small group of lei discovered in sites as far apart as Beido (or Baidong), in Harqin Left Wing Mongol Autonomous County in Liaoning province, and Zhuwajie, in Peng county, Sichuan.
These pieces all have the same characteristics. Four taotie masks appear sideways on the lower part of the belly, and not in line with the handles, as is found systematically in the Shang period. Four characteristic creatures with a curved trunk, sometimes identified as elephants, decorate the upper part. The lid takes the form of a mythical lizard-like creature sitting with its tail coiled around it.
An apocryphal inscription on the inner edge of the neck of the Cernuschi Museum lei has led to doubt being cast on its authenticity. In the light of recent excavations, all specialists now believe it to be an ancient and particularly rare specimen.

Reference(s) : Gilles Béguin, Arts de l’Asie au Musée Cernuschi, Paris Musées / Findakly, 2000, p.46.