Han Bronze Fang Hu

SKU H.855

206 BC to 220 AD


13.5″ (34.3cm) high





Gallery Location



This square-shaped bronze fang hu is notable for its elegant simplicity. Such a vessel would have functioned as a ritual container for the storage and transportation of sumptuous wines. This refined fang hu is essentially unadorned, save for two decorative Tao Tieh mask handles that have been attached to the swelling body of the hu. These stylized animal heads represent a type of dragon found in Chinese mythology. Their abstracted representation, as well as the incised patterns, demonstrates the influence of previous works such as the bronzes of the Zhou Dynasty. A lid caps this fang hu, embellished with four abstract “handles” that appear to be highly stylized bird heads. Over the ages, the bronze has acquired a fabulous patina of alternating turquoise and brown hues, adding both delightful colors and pleasing textures to this otherwise sparsely adorned vessel. Such a work, forged from bronze, would have been the treasured possession of an elite member of the social hierarchy. Quite simply, only court nobility or wealthy merchants could afford such a luxury. Although this vessel would have functioned as a wine container in life, it was found discovered buried in a tomb. A symbol for the bountiful pleasures of life, for drinking and feasting, this fang hu would have represented the joys to be experienced in the afterlife and the feasts and celebrations yet to come. Today, this vessel is not only a gorgeous work of art, treasured for its history and rarity; but also a stunning reminder of the richness and luxury of the Han Dynasty, both in this world and the next.

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