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

Decorations cast in high and low relief, grey-green patination with patch of azurite blue inside body and occasional specks of light green. One-character inscription cast inside foot.

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Historical period(s)
middle Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1150-1100 BCE
H x Diam: 32.7 × 19.4 cm (12 7/8 × 7 5/8 in)
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
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

By 1896
Possibly Wu Dacheng 吳大澂 (1835-1902), method of acquisition unknown [1]

By 1951
J. T. & Tai & Co., INC. New York, New York, method of acquisition unknown [1]

From 1951
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from J. T. & Tai & Co., New York, New York. [2]

[1] See WU Dacheng 吳大澂, Kezhai ji gu lu: fu shi wen sheng gao 愙齋集古錄 : 附釋文賸稿 / 吳大澂輯 (Shanghai: Shang wu yin shu guan, 1930), vol 21, 6a. A rubbing of the object's inscription is included within the publication. The preface to the publication dates WU Dacheng's original text to 1896, suggesting that the vessel was in circulation before or by the time of publication.

[2] See invoice, J. T. Tai & Company INC. to Freer Art Gallery, November 1, 1951, copy in object file. On the invoice, the object is identified as JTT 13 and described as " One bronze Ku (Shang Dyn.). H. 13". Weight 3-1/8 lbs." J. T. Tai 戴潤齋 (1911-1992) was an art dealer who was initially based in Shanghai, China. In 1949, Tai fled with his family to Hong Kong when a communist regime came to power. In 1950, he immigrated to New York, where he established J. T. Tai & Company, a gallery that opened in the fall of 1950 and specialized in the sale of Chinese arts.

Research Completed on March 17, 2022

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Wu Dacheng 1835-1902
J.T. Tai & Co. established in 1950


Decorations cast in high and low relief, grey-green patination with patch of azurite blue inside body and occasional specks of light green. One-character inscription cast inside foot.


Inscribed in the foot, Xi 徒 (Undeciphered title composed of a road intersection next to striding feet)

Published References
  • Shang Chou chin wen shi ch'eng. Multi-volume, Taipei. cat. 6541.
  • Chin wen tsung chi. Taipei. vol. 8: p. 3293.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 1, vol. 1: p. 153.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 11.
  • Liu Wang-hang. Chiu yu ch'ing t'ung chiu ch'i. no. 22 Taipei. p. 15.
  • The Horizon Book of the Arts of China. New York. p. 45.
  • Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 6 Honolulu. p. 67, fig. 9.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Rutherford John Gettens, James Cahill, Noel Barnard. The Freer Chinese Bronzes. Oriental Studies Series, vol. 1, no. 7 Washington. cat. 10, p. 69.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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