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Wine Vessel (Zun) in the Form of a Goose

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)

Used for pouring wine, this goose-shaped bronze vessel is stylistically different from earlier ritual bronzes in the expressive naturalism of the animal form. A similar vessel is recorded in the collection of the Northern Song emperor Huizong (ruled 1101–25) and illustrated in the catalogue of his imperial collection, first printed around 1125. Chinese artisans of later dynasties followed the catalogue's illustrations to create archaistic goose-shaped vessels, but few succeeded in replicating the lively, sculptural qualities of this ancient work.

  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.
    DYNASTY Han Dynasty
    PERIOD Han Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS 11 1/2 x 6 3/16 x 17 1/2 in. (29.2 x 15.7 x 44.5 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 54.145a-b
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Wine Vessel (Zun) in the Form of a Goose, 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E. Bronze, 11 1/2 x 6 3/16 x 17 1/2 in. (29.2 x 15.7 x 44.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 54.145a-b. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 54.145a-b_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 54.145a-b_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Pouring vessel in the shape of a goose in an aggressive posture with its wings partially spread. The vessel was used for the heating and pouring of wine. The handle rises from the backs of two partial lion figures. Incised lines indicate the eyes and feathers of the bird. Although here attributed to the Han dynasty, certain aspects of the vessel's form (most notably the lions) suggest a later date, perhaps to the Tang dynasty, when lion forms were frequently borrowed from Central Asian traditions. Likewise, the incising (which was added after the casting of the overall form) is more typical of Tang bronzes.
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