Lidded ritual wine container (hu) with masks and dragons

Grey-green patina. Decoration cast in five registers and on cover.

Historical period(s)
early Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 13th century BCE
H x Diam: 17.6 × 11.5 cm (6 15/16 × 4 1/2 in)
China, Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Metalwork, Vessel

Ritual vessel: hu

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

To 1947
Likely Luwu Antiques Company, Shanghai, China to August 1947 [1]

1947 to 1948
C. T. Loo & Company, New York, NY likely by transfer from Luwu Antiques Company, Shanghai [2]

1948 to 1949
C. T. Loo, INC., New York by transfer from C. T. Loo & Company, NY [3]

From 1949
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from C. T. Loo, INC. in May 1949 [4]


[1] Luwu was an export business that supplied C. T. Loo & Company, New York and Paris with Chinese. Loo formed this company in 1926. The name, Luwu combines the names of C. T. Loo and Wu Qi Zhou, Luwu’s primary associates. The business aquired objects from across China, but everything passed through Shanghai before being sent to France. Zhou and Laio would send all acquisitions to Shanghai, where Wu packaged and shipped them to France. See C. T. Loo & Company stock card, no. CHL 7/942, copy in object file. The stock card reports that the object was imported from China August of 1947.

[2] See stock card referenced in note 1.

[3] C. T. Loo formed C. T. Loo, INC in 1948, when he lost access to trade in mainland China. See invoice from C. T. Loo, INC to Freer Gallery of Art, May 10, 1949, copy in object file.

[4] See invoice referenced in note 3.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Lu Wu Antiques Co. 1911-ca. 1949
C.T. Loo & Company 1914-1948
C.T. Loo, INC. ca. 1948-no later than July 1953


Grey-green patina. Decoration cast in five registers and on cover.


Between 1600 and 1300 B.C., pottery and bronze production continued their active dialogue, exchanging shapes, decorations, and production techniques. Although the shouldered gray earthenware container (lei) is a potter's shape, its dramatic interlocked T design occurs more often on bronzes. The contrast produced by the stamped textured background and the bold, smooth bands of interlocked T's, parallels the effect of the large, masklike motifs against the carefully executed spiral ground. At the same time, serrated vertical ridges commonly used on gray pottery were copied on bronzes.

Published References
  • Sekai bijutsu zenshu [A Complete Collection of World Art]. 40 vols., Tokyo, F1951-1953. cat. 59, vol. 2.
  • Sueji Umehara. Yin hsu: Ancient Capital of the Shang Dynasty at An-yang. Tokyo. pl. 101.
  • Sekai kokogaku taikei [Archaeology of the World]. 16 vols., Tokyo, 1958-1962. vol. 6: pl. 62.
  • Cheng Te-k'un. Archaeology in China. 3 vols., Cambridge, England. vol. 2: pl. 51d.
  • 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 683.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 2, vol. 1: p. 153.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 4, p. 41.
  • Chinese Art Society of America. Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 4. p. 66.
  • Mary Belle O' Brien. Iconic Images and Jade Textile Tools for Neolithic and Bronze Age China's Silk Industry., July 2009. p. 183, fig. 5a.
  • Jessica Rawson. Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 2 Washington and Cambridge, Massachusetts. p. 388, fig. 44.3.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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