VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Three-Goat Zun Vessel
Three-Goat Zun Vessel
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The zun vessel has a large mouth, thick pouting lip and broad shoulder. Three raised strings are found on the contracted neck. The shoulder is equidistantly decorated with three curvy-horned goat heads in high relief and eye designs on frets in between. The designs on the stout belly are more splendid: there are three animal mask designs on frets. The method of exaggeration is used to stress the eye, the most lifelike part of the mask, thus increasing the solemn atmosphere. Two raised strings are on the long circular leg. Three equidistant big holes are one of the typical characteristics of Shang bronzes. The lower part of the leg is decorated with six animal mask designs on frets. The composition of all designs is complex and orderly. It is the largest vessel of its kind in China discovered until now. This zun vessel was cast twice: Its body was cast first. An empty space was left on its shoulder. Pottery moulds were then made in this space in order to cast the goat heads. It reflects the intelligence and technical standards of our ancestors three thousand years ago and displays the high level of their casting skills. The vessel is majestically molded and exquisitely made. It is an ancient bronze masterpiece of China.

History of the Object
Its large mouth, broad shoulder, stout body and long leg with three big holes in it, its intricate design as well as its splendid and solemn shape reveal that it was made in the thirteenth century BCE in the late Shang Dynasty.

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Type
Archaeological 
Materials
Bronze 
Measurements
Diameter of mouth: 41.2 cm. 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 13th century ~ AD 13th century 
Creation date
BCE 16th Century - 11th Century; Late Shang Dynasty (16 c. -11 c. BCE) 
Function
Wine vessel 
Acquisition
Acquired in 1956 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Palace Museum,Beijing 
Museum
The Palace Museum 
Credit line
Palace Museum, Beijing 

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