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Square-Sectioned Bronze Lei Vessel of the Yaxu Clan

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Period: Late Shang dynasty (ca. 1600-1028 BCE)
Dimensions: overall height 60.8 cm, width 37.6 cm, weight 20.8 kg

This lei vessel has a square mouth, a cover, and a straight neck. Each side of the shoulder features an animal’s head with a loop in its mouth. The body is rounded, and the two main sides each display an animal’s head in relief. An animal-head protrudes immediately below the body. The square foot flares downward. The cover, neck, body, and foot are each decorated with eight vertical ridges. The cover is fashioned in the shape of a roof; a knob rests atop the cover. The knob, cover and body are decorated with animal-mask designs (shoumian wen), while the neck, shoulder, and foot are decorated with designs of kui-dragons. Two inscriptions of nine characters are carved on both the cover (in two lines) and the vessel (in four lines) and can be roughly translated as "precious vessel [for] ritual veneration [of the] queens [and the] heir apparent. Yaxu is believed to be the name of the craftsman“s clan. 

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