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Tsu-i Tsun

Tags: bronzes | National Palace Museum | vessel | Western Chou


Western Chou
Height: 34.5 cm, rim diameter: 25.6 cm, base diameter: 16.9 cm, body circumference: 54.4 cm, weight: 5725 g 
With four sides bearing flanges, the body of this vessel is decorated with animal-mask and k'uei-dragon patterns. The eyebrows, ears, and lower lip of the two animal masks on the belly protrude, as each ear is decorated with a bird pattern. This wide-rimmed tube-shaped tsun vessel is of a type that was popular in the early Western Chou period. Divided into three segments--a flaring rim, extended belly, and a high ring foot, and near the base is folded rim and the four panels of the body are divided by openwork flanges. The outer wall of the rim is decorated with a sharp leaf-shaped pattern of simplified standing inverted k'uei dragons, below which are curled-tail k'uei-dragon designs. Both sides of the body are decorated with large animal-mask decoration, the eyes, horns, ears, and fangs at the side of the mouths of which protrude from the surface of the vessel. Rich in imagery, the nose standing out takes the place of a flange and also gives the animal mask a sense of volumetric force. Below the body are two rings that divide the high foot base, and below is a decoration of curving horned animal-mask patterns. Overall, this tsun vessel is solemn and noble in appearance as well as quite opulent and majestic. Similar to this vessel in shape is the "Ho tsun" from the reign of King Ch'eng and the "Ch'i tsun" from that of King Chao. Along with the "Shang tsun" from the early Western Chou period, they are all quite beautiful, being among the top extant bronze tsun vessels of the period. The inscription of six characters in two lines records a certain person (whose name was not included) who had this precious sacrificial vessel cast for his grandfather named Fu-i.

Text: Yu Kuo-ching

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum