Bronze Houlou

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Han Dynasty, 206 BC - 220 AD
19 cm
16 cm

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The bronze pear-shaped Houlou is raised on three short legs. It has a yoke handle with dragon-heads, attached to the vessel with double linked chains, with loop handles with rings. The bell-shaped cover has a slightly domed top and three hooked loops, covering the neck of the vase. The vessel has a mottled blue and green patina.

During the Qin and Han dynasties bronzes, previously only used as ritual vessels, became common wares. Some of the traditional shapes disappeared and others, like the hu and the ding, transformed into their more utilitarian use. In addition to these traditional vessels, new shapes emerged during the Han dynasty; including the Houlou, a wine vessel.   

See a similar example in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, described in Y. Kuo-Ching, Rituals Cast in Brilliance: Chinese Bronzes Through the Ages, Taipei 2014, p. 162, and see an example in R.Y. Lefebvre d'Argencé, Bronze Vessels of Ancient China in The Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco 1977, cat. no. LIX.


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