A VERY RARE BRONZE PLAQUE
15.000 € - 25.000 €
Description:China, late Xia/early Shang period, 16th-15th c. BC.
Slightly domed bronze plate with decoration of an animal mask or a crouching animal in top view and small, mainly square turquoise inlays. The exact purpose of this plate is unclear. Three comparable examples were found between 1981-86 during excavations in Erlitou, Henan Province, in areas V and VI (tombs no. 4, 11 + 57). Among them, the plaque from tomb 11 from the late Erlitou phase (c. 16th-15th century BC), which already passes into the early Shang period, is very similar to the present ornamental plate both in decoration and size. Two of the three plaques were found at chest level of the buried person, and in the literature these plaques are therefore referred to as chest ornaments. The assumption that the plaque with the turquoise inlays and probably also the crescent-shaped pendant presented in the preceding catalogue number could be parts of the bridle for horses, as assumed by Loehr and Poor and others, seems to be no longer tenable for several reasons: 1. by the circumstances of discovery of the specimens found in scientific excavations in Erlitou, they lay next to the chest of the buried person or directly next to the dead person. 2. no horse burials or chariots have been found so far in Erlitou and other tombs of the Erlitou culture or the Xia dynasty (c. 1900-1500 BC), and 3. turquoise inlays on bronze objects in northern China after the Erlitou period are not found again until the late Shang period (c. 1600-11th C. BC). What is striking about all the examples found, as well as the two objects presented here, is the astonishingly good condition of the turquoise inlays. Bronze with green-grey corrosion and turquoise inlays.
From an important private collection, according to the owner in his family since about 1920, sold at Nagel, 17.5.2006, lot 803 and now from the estate of the buyer
Cf. Loehr, Max: Relics from Ancient China from the Collection of Dr. Paul Singer, New York, 1965, no. 19; Poor, Robert J.: Ancient Chinese bronzes, ceramics and jade in the Collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, 1975, no. 13; Zhongguo meishu quanji, Gongyi meishu bian, vol. 4, Qingtong qi; ("Vollständige Sammlung chinesischer Kunst / Complete collection of Chinese art", "Vollständige Sammlung Kunsthandwerk/ Complete collection of arts and crafts"), vol. 4, ("Bronzeobjekte / Bronze objects"), Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1985, no. 3, plate 3 (excavated in 1981 in Erlitou, Henan Province); Bagley, Robert W.: Shang ritual bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. I of Ancient Chinese bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, Washington/Cambridge: The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation and Harvard University Press, 1987, fig.11, p. 67, bronze plaque with turquoise inlay from Erlitou, l: 14.2 cm (same plaque as illustrated in Qingtong qi, 1985, no. 3); Gems of China's Cultural Relics, Beijing: Cultural Relics Publishing House, 1992, no. 87; Catalogue of the Miho Museum (South Wing), Miho: The Miho Museum, 1997, no. 77; Croes, Gisele: From the Ancient Kingdoms to Imperial China, Brussels: Arts d'Extröme-Orient, 1998, pp. 22+23, bronze and turquoise plaque, 15.1 x 10.3 cm (simpler in design); Yang, Xiaoneng (ed.): The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology - Celebrated Discoveries from the People's Republic of China, Washington: Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, 1999, p. 140 + no. 38, pp.146+147 are from Erlitou, Yanshi, Henan Province and are dated to Period II of the Erlitou culture, c. 1800-1700 BC)