Early Western Zhou Dynasty, circa 10th Century B.C.
the deep squared bowl of rectangular section, cast on all four sides with pairs of crested birds in relief on squared-spiral leiwen grounds and confronted on dissolved taotie motifs filling horizontal bands above and below a central frieze of convex vertical flutes, the corners of the bowl embellished with thick toothed flanges above the four columnar legs issuing from the jaws of taotie masks with bulging eyes on either side of thick central flanges, the flat rim with projecting edge and surmounted by a pair of small upright loop handles, the surface with bright malachite green and azurite blue patina lightly encrusted all over, with an inscription of nine characters cast on the interior of one side of the vessel.
Height 8 1⁄2 inches (21.5 cm)
The inscription may be read as: Ming zuo jue wen kao Jigong zun ding (命作厥文考己公尊鼎), which may be translated as “Ming made [this] zun ding, for his honored father Jigong.”
An early Western Zhou fang ding decorated with similar bird motifs and vertical flutes unearthed in 1969 from Changwu county, Shaanxi province, is illustrated in Shaanxi chutu Shang Zhou qingtongqi (Shang and Zhou Bronzes Unearthed in Shaanxi Province), Vol. I, Beijing, 1979, p. 135, no. 154.
Compare the early Western Zhou fang ding decorated with similar toothed flanges and with taotie masks on the legs, in the collection of the Shanghai Museum, illustrated by Chen in Xia Shang Zhou qingtongqi yanjiu: Xi Zhou, shang (Study of Bronzes from the Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties: Western Zhou, I), Shanghai, 2004, pp. 2-3, no. 194.
高 21.5 厘米