Fitting in the form of an animal, possibly a tapir

Historical period(s)
Middle Eastern Zhou dynasty, ca. early 5th century BCE
H x W x D: 11.2 x 18.3 x 6.3 cm (4 7/16 x 7 3/16 x 2 1/2 in)
China, Shanxi province
Credit Line
Purchase ā€” Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 18: Art and Industry: China's Ancient Houma Foundry
Metalwork, Sculpture


China, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), tapir

Reportedly excavated at Li-yĆ¼, Shanxi province, China [1]

From 1939 to 1940
C. T. Loo & Company, New York from at least September 26, 1939 [2]

From 1940
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C. T. Loo & Company on November 9, 1940 [3]


[1] According to Archibald G. Wenley's and John A. Pope's curatorial remark, dated 1944, in object file.

[2] See C. T. Loo's stockcard no. 86542: "Bronze standing animal WEI, finely decorated with designs of twisted dragons, bluish patina. Late Chou," Frank Caro Archive, Institute of Fine Arts, New York Unviersity, copy in object file. The object was taken by Loo to the Freer Gallery in May 1940.

[3] See C. T. Loo's invoice, dated November 9, 1940, copy in object file.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948


This quadruped was crafted with considerable detail, especially in the modeling of the animal's face, its short, hoofed legs, and its scaled rotund body. Despite the clear features, the identity of the animal remains obscure, as does the precise function of the bronze figure. The collar of cowrie shells, twisted rope bands, striations, and scale patterns suggest that this animal was also produced in the Houma workshops in southern Shanxi Province.

Published References
  • William Watson. The Art of Dynastic China. New York, 1981. ill. 247.
  • T'an Tan-chiung. T'ung ch'i kai shu. Taipei. pl. 105.
  • Report of the Secretary, 1941/42. Washington. pl. 4.
  • Mizuno Seiichi. In Shu seidoki to tama [Bronzes and Jades of Ancient China]. Tokyo. pl. 157.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 16.
  • Jenny F. So. Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 3 New York, 1995. p. 37, fig. 46.
  • Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. p. 47, fig. 41.
  • Compiled by the staff of the Freer Gallery of Art. A Descriptive and Illustrative Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes: Acquired During the Administration of John Ellerton Lodge. Oriental Studies Series, no. 3 Washington, 1946. p. 60, pl. 32.
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480-222 B.C. Washington, 1982-1983. cat. 36, p. 78.
  • Georges Salles. Les Bronzes de Li-yu. Paris. pp. 146-158, pl. 50.
  • Eleanor von Erdberg Consten. The Deer in Early Chinese Art. vol. 26, no. 3/4 Washington and Zurich. pp.192, 196, 201, pl. 3.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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