Altar Set

Period: Shang dynasty–Western Zhou dynasty (1046–771 B.C.)

Date: late 11th century B.C.

Culture: China

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: Overall (table): H. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm); W. 18 1/4 in. (46.4 cm); D. 35 3/8 in. (89.9 cm)

Classification: Metalwork

Credit Line: Munsey Fund, 1931

Accession Number: 24.72.1–.14


This elaborate set of ritual bronzes, consisting of an altar table and thirteen wine vessels, illustrates the splendor of China’s Bronze Age at its peak. The monumental design, intricate surface decoration, and refined casting attest convincingly to artistic sophistication and tech­nological advancement. The set was reportedly found in the early twentieth century at the tomb of a Western Zhou aristocrat in Shaanxi province and subsequently entered the collection of Duan Fang, a prominent government official and renowned antiquarian, whose heirs later sold it to the Metropolitan Museum.