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Wine Vessel (Zun) in the Form of a Goose

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
This bronze vessel, used for heating and holding wine, takes the form of a standing goose, with the extended neck serving as the spout. The date of this vessel is difficult to ascertain. The incised hatch lines, engraved after the casting of the bronze, delineate the eyes, webbed feet, and tail feathers as well as the handle design. Although rare, such engraving contributes to the Han-dynasty dating. Two small lions, more typical of Tang-dynasty (618–907 C.E.) bronzes, support a handle on the goose’s back. Scientific testing has ascertained that the handle was cast at the same time as the vessel and not added later. A drawing of a similar goose-shape vessel is found in the collection of the Northern Song emperor Huizong (reigned 1101–25) and is illustrated in the catalogue of his imperial collection of ancient bronzes, first printed about 1125, along with a ceramic ru-ware vessel that dates to the same period.
MEDIUM Bronze
  • 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)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    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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