HK$9.7m Ritual Vessel Zun Led Archaic Bronze Sale at Poly Auction Hong Kong

Poly Auction Hong Kong offered a selection of archaic bronzes from the Western and Japanese collectors at the sale Lasting Echoes, which was led by an archaic bronze vessel, Zun, from late Shang dynasty to early Western Zhou dynasty (1600-771 BC). The Zun was hammered down at HK$8.5m and sold for HK$9.77m.

The 31cm-tall ritual vessel was estimated at HK$6m-8m. The auctioneer started the bidding at HK$5.6m and saw strong interest from a telephone bidder and a room bidder. The vessel was hammered down at HK$8.5m, a winning bid offered by a gentleman in the room.

Originally used as ritual wine containers, zun is known from the late Erligang period and grew in popularity during the Shang dynasty. Decorated with foliage and animal motifs, the zun has an inscription on the inner surface of the base.

Piece mould casting

Ranking in the second place was a bronze wine vessel and cover, YOU, from the late Shang dynasty to early Western Zhou dynasty (1600-771 BC). Estimated at HK$5m-7m, it was once in the collection of the renowned Yamanaka & Co., Ltd. in Japan. The bidding opened at HK$4.6m and evolved into an intense bidding battle. The vessel was hammered down for HK$7.8m and sold for HK$8.97m (with premium) to a room bidder.

The shape and decoration of this lot are widely seen in the early Western Zhou dynasty. In the Shang dynasty, YOU was used as a wine container and used in rituals for ancestors or ceremonies for nature or spirits. It was very difficult to create such vessel during that time. People were using the technique of piece mould casting, which involves making a clay model of the shape first. Then the clay pieces were removed in sections to form the piece-moulds. The model was then shaved down to become the core and the piece-moulds were reassembled around the core. Molten bronze would then be poured into the space between the mould and the core in order to make the piece.

The third top lot was a ritual vessel, Liding, from the late Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC). It was hammered down at its low estimate HK$2.5m and sold for HK$2.87m.

Liding of this type were common during the late Anyang and early Western Zhou period. The tri-lobed body cast in low relief with three taotie masks with large rounded eyes positioned above. This design is usually found in wine vessels or food containers.

Top three lots

A Rare Archaic Bronze Ritual Vessel, Zun, Late Shang Dynasty to Western Zhou Dynasty, 1600-771 B.C.

Lot no.: 3108
Height: 31cm

  • Kawai Sadajiro Collection, Kyoto, Japan
  • Dr.A.F Philips Collection, Netherland
  • Sotheby’s London, 13 March 1978, lot 21
  • A European Important Private Collection

Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000
Hammer price: HK$8,500,000
Price realised: HK$9,775,000

An Archaic Bronze Wine Vessel and Cover, You, Late Shang Dynasty, 1600-1046 B.C. Or Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 1046-771 B.C.

Lot no.: 3103
Height: 28cm

  • A Kyoto Private Collection, Japan, before 1959
  • Yamanaka & Co., Ltd., Japan

Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000
Hammer price: HK$7,800,000
Price realised: HK$8,970,000

Ritual Vessel, Liding, Late Shang Dynasty, 1600-1046 B.C.

Lot no.: 3112
Height: 21.4cm

  • Louis Depagne Collection, France, before 1983
  • Cukierman Collection, London

Estimate: HK$2,500,000 - 4,000,000
Hammer price: HK$2,500,000
Price realised: HK$2,875,000

Auction details

Auction house: Poly Auction Hong Kong
Sale: Lasting Echoes - Archaic Bronzes from the Western and Important Japanese Collectors
Sale date: 2 October 2018
Lots offered: 16