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Three-Ram Zun Wine Vessel

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Period: late Shang dynasty (ca. 1600-1028 BCE)
Date: undated
Dimensions: height: 52 cm, diameter of mouth: 41.2 cm, weight: 51.3 kg

The zun has large mouth, thick pouting lip and broad shoulder. Three raised strings are on the contracted neck. The shoulder is equidistantly decorated with three curvy-horned ram heads in high relief and eye designs on frets in between. The designs on the stout belly are more splendid: There are three animal mask designs on frets. The method of exaggeration is used to stress eye, the most lifelike part of the mask, thus increasing the solemn atmosphere. Two raised strings are on the long circular leg. The three equidistant big holes are one of the typical characteristics of the Shang bronze. The lower part of the leg is decorated with six animal mask designs on frets. The composition of all the designs on the largest vessel in its kind discovered up to now in China is complex and orderly. This zun was cast twice: Its body was cast first. Empty space was left on its shoulder. Pottery moulds were then made in the space in order to cast the ram heads. It reflects the intelligence and techniques of our ancestors three thousand years ago and displays the high level of their casting skills. Its large mouth, broad shoulder, stout body, long leg together with the three big holes on it, intricate designs as well as the splendid and solemn shape reveal that it was made in the 13th century B.C. in the late Shang dynasty. With majestic molding and exquisite making, it is an ancient bronze masterpiece in China.

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