Basin with turtles and fish


Not on view

The design of this vessel reflects the fourteenth-century antiquarian taste. This type of water basin can be traced back to the Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.), but the vessel’s design is based on a woodblock illustration in the 12th-century Xuanhe Bogutu, a catalogue of Song-dynasty imperial collection. The design of turtles and fish allude to the legend of a turtle that emerged from the Luo River bearing a divine book on its carapace. The vessel most likely functioned as a decorative piece in a scholar’s study meant to demonstrate the owner’s appreciation for antiquity.

Basin with turtles and fish, Unidentified Artist, Chinese, 14th century, Bronze, China

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