Ritual wine cup (gu) with masks (taotie), snakes, and cicadas

Ceremonial vessel, type ku. Silvery gray and gray-green patina with scattered incrustations of malachite and cuprite (?) outside and in. Cast inscription of 2 characters inside the base.

Historical period(s)
middle Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1150 BCE
H x Diam: 28.3 × 16.2 cm (11 1/8 × 6 3/8 in)
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 23b: Anyang: China's Ancient City of Kings
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: gu

Anyang period (ca. 1300 - ca. 1050 BCE), China, inscription, mask, wine

Probably found at Anyang, Henan Province, China [1]

To 1940
T. Mori, Japan to 1940

From 1940
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from T. Mori, Japan, through George Abo, Boston in 1940 [2]


[1] According to Keith Wilson's curatorial remark, dated March 2009, in database record.

[2] Undated folder sheet note. For additional information, see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

T. Mori


Ceremonial vessel, type ku. Silvery gray and gray-green patina with scattered incrustations of malachite and cuprite (?) outside and in. Cast inscription of 2 characters inside the base.


1. 2-character inscription. (From original folder sheet note 3) (Undated folder sheet note) The well cast inscription reads Chung-te, ---a name, no doubt, and characteristic in some degree, perhaps, of Shang names, since [chn] Chung-jen was the name of a Shang king, and [chn] Chung-tsung the temple-name of another.

2. Inscribed in the foot, Dun De 盾得 (Official title composed of a shield and a hand holding a cowrie shell next to a road intersection, possibly meaning “Elite Guard, Treasury Officer”)

Published References
  • Shang Chou chin wen shi ch'eng. Multi-volume, Taipei. cat. 6762.
  • Chin wen tsung chi. Taipei. vol. 8: p. 3359.
  • Chen Mengjia. Yin Zhou qing tong qi fen lei tu lu [Yin-Chou ch'ing t'ung ch'i fen lei t'u lu]. 2 vols., Dongjing. vol. 2: A 464.
  • 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. pp. 5-7, 29, pl. 10.
  • Sueji Umehara. On the Ancient Tombs Discovered at Hou-chia chung, Chang-te fu, Ho-nan sheng. no. 30. pp. 18-30, pl. 5.
  • Dagny Carter. Four Thousand Years of China's Art. New York. p. 23, b.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 8, p. 59.
  • Catalogue of the Fine Collection of Important Early Chinese Bronzes and Rare Archaic Jades, Paintings, Lacquer, Textiles, Rugs, Sculpture, Chinese Ceramics and Various Works of Art: The Property of H.K. Burnet, Esq. London, April 2-4, 1941. no. 397, p. 99.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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