Bronze; H. 21 5/8 in. (54.9 cm)
Charlotte C. and John C. Weber, Gift of Charlotte C. and John C. Weber through the Live Oak Foundation, 1988 (1988.20.4a,b–5a,b)
The Zhou initially adopted the ritual practices and accompanying bronze vessels of their Shang predecessors. By the ninth century, however, a new bronze style had evolved, characterized by new shapesprimarily food vesselsand an imagery that tended toward simple and abstract forms. Striking in size and of graceful proportions, these hu wine vessels have flattened pear-shaped bodies with molded feet and lids. Their forms, which have lost the tautness and tension of Shang vessels, are decorated with heavy, rounded relief figures on a plain ground, set in panels formed by flat relief bands running horizontally and vertically. The eight panels are filled with an ornamental pattern consisting of hooked lines enclosing an "eye" motif, a playful transformation of the ubiquitous dragon-mask (taotie) motifs of the earlier vessels.