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Gallery Text

The move of the Zhou capital eastward in the wake of nomadic invasions marked a diminution of Zhou authority and the rise in power of surrounding states. Although in the earlier Western Zhou period, bronze was employed primarily for ritual vessels, weapons, and tools, during the Eastern Zhou era, it began to be used to make mirrors, bells, and chariot fittings as well. Bronze mirrors were polished smooth on their reflective sides, and their backs were intricately decorated with auspicious symbols or cosmological designs. Their reflectivity was believed to create light in a darkened tomb and to ward off evil. Chariots were vital for military warfare, and those of the powerful were fitted with ornate finials and attachments, which during the Warring States period (475–221 BCE) were often inlaid with precious stones and metals. This technique was also employed with greater frequency in the casting of bronze vessels, revealing yet another shift in the function of such objects, from commemorative status symbols to more decorative vestiges of a ritual tradition.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
'You' Covered Ritual Wine Vessel with Decoration of Confronting Birds
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Geng Ying you
Work Type
mid Western Zhou period, 10th century BCE
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Zhou dynasty, Western Zhou period, c. 1050-771 BCE
Level 1, Room 1600, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Bronze Age to the Golden Age
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Physical Descriptions
Cast bronze with blackish patina; with dedicatory inscription by Lady Geng Ying cast on both the vessel floor and lid interior
H. 29 x W. 18.8 x D. 17.7 cm (11 7/16 x 7 3/8 x 6 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • (not assigned): matching dedicatory inscriptions integrally cast on both the vessel floor and lid interior; each translates:: In the King's tenth month in the third quarter on the day jichou, the King proceeded to the Temple of Geng Ying and awarded ten strings of cowries and one box (?) of cinnabar. Geng Ying in order to extol the King's graciousness had made for her accomplished mother-in-law this precious vessel. May sons and grandsons for ten thousand years and forever after treasure and use it.
[C. T. Loo & Co., New York, March 17, 1942] sold; to Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (1942-1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith, and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), no. 037, pp. 34-35

Chen Mengjia, Yin Zhou qingtongqi fenlei tulu (A corpus of Chinese bronzes in American Collections), Kyuko Shoin (Tokyo, Japan, 1977), A 631

Max Loehr, "Aesthetic Delight: An Anthology of Far Eastern Art", Apollo (New Series), Apollo Publications Inc. (London, England, May 1978), vol. CVII, no. 195, pp. 414-421, p. 414, fig. 1

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), no. 6, p. 16

Jessica Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections (Volume IIB), Arthur M. Sackler Foundation and Arthur M. Sackler Museum (Washington, D.C. and Cambridge, Mass., 1990), p. 429, fig. 53.7

Exhibition History

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 11/23/2008

32Q: 1600 Early China II, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu