Skip to contentSkip to navigation
Become a Member
Explore today's schedule
Visit MMFA for free by becoming a Member
Learn more
Back
Currently shown

Ritual Food Vessel (gui)

Location

CHINA

Era

Western Zhou dynasty (about 1050-771 B.C.E.)-Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

Title

Ritual Food Vessel (gui)

Date

10th c. B.C.E. (vessel), 17th-19th c. C.E. (lid)

Materials

Bronze

Dimensions

24.6 x 31.6 x 24.2 cm

Credits

F. Cleveland Morgan Bequest, inv. 1962.Ed.35a-b

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

This ritual food vessel (gui) is an incredible time traveller, telling a fascinating tale of migration and fluctuation of meaning. Once part of a larger set of containers, which was used in the ancestor rites of the early Western Zhou dynasty, this food-offering bronze was, according to the formulaic inscription in the cavetto, meant to be cherished and passed down from generation to generation. It was eventually deposited in a tomb to serve its master in the afterlife, and its presence there was clear evidence of the deceased’s wealth. During the Qing dynasty, it surfaced as part of the imperial collection of the prince Kong, not as a ritual vessel for food but as a censer, complete with a splendid teak lid, a tacit homage to the magnificence of the Zhou dynasty. Eventually the New York dealer Yamanaka and Son sold it to F. Cleveland Morgan, volunteer curator of the Museum from 1912 to 1962, when Prince Kong’s entire collection was auctioned in 1912.

A touch of culture to your inbox
Subscribe to the Museum newsletter

Bourgie Hall Newsletter sign up

This website uses cookies in order to optimize your browsing experience and for promotional purposes. To learn more, please see our policy on the protection of personal Iinformation