Vessel

300 BC-100 BC (made)
Vessel thumbnail 1
Vessel thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This type of bronze vase, called a fanghu in Chinese, is an elegant example of a decorative technique popular in China at the end of the Zhou dynasty, around the 4th-3rd centuries BC. In this example, the purple-grey patterns are silver inlays which have tarnished, while the golden patterns are inlaid in two layers. First, thin stripes of a non-precious metal like copper were hammered into pre-chiselled depressions on the surface; then a thin layer of gilding was overlaid on the top. This device obviously helped to economize on precious metals.

Vases with inlaid decoration, although utilitarian in scope, were generally considered luxury items to display as symbols of wealth and prestige, and as such they often would have been buried in graves after the death of their owner. The production of inlaid vessels was still widespread during the subsequent Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Brief Description
Chinese bronze vessel inlaid with gold and silver, Zhou-Han dynasties, 300-100 BC.
Style
Gallery Label
Wine jar Western Han dynasty 206 BC-AD 8 Cast bronze with gold and silver inlays Given from the E.A. Brooks collection Museum no. M.1154-1926(2007)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Ernest A. Brooks
Summary
This type of bronze vase, called a fanghu in Chinese, is an elegant example of a decorative technique popular in China at the end of the Zhou dynasty, around the 4th-3rd centuries BC. In this example, the purple-grey patterns are silver inlays which have tarnished, while the golden patterns are inlaid in two layers. First, thin stripes of a non-precious metal like copper were hammered into pre-chiselled depressions on the surface; then a thin layer of gilding was overlaid on the top. This device obviously helped to economize on precious metals.



Vases with inlaid decoration, although utilitarian in scope, were generally considered luxury items to display as symbols of wealth and prestige, and as such they often would have been buried in graves after the death of their owner. The production of inlaid vessels was still widespread during the subsequent Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).
Collection
Accession Number
M.1154:1, 2-1926

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record createdDecember 22, 1999
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