On September 16 in New York, Sotheby's sells a hu jar designed to contain fermented beverages, lot 122 estimated $ 2.8M. Some of its features display an evolution from the Shang-Zhou transition, and such a timeline allows to position it in the middle of the period of the Western Zhou, around 2900 years ago.
This tall piece 58 cm high of baluster form on a square base is complete with its cover and two side rings. Inscriptions on lid and body are consistent enough to ensure that it still has the original cover. This hu has a shining grayish-green patina in harmony with green malachite inlay.
Its decor is the modern art of its time, although extremely stylized dragons and birds had already figured in earlier periods. Unlike its predecessors in which every available surface was incised, its smooth surfaces on three partitioned registers follow an artistic intention that has been very successful.
Another interesting element is that the taotie have disappeared, superseded by simple diamond shaped figures, as if civilization had rejected their mysterious power among the legends.
At the time of Qianlong, this vase was among the imperial collections of 3500 archaic bronzes that were described by the Chinese experts of the court. It was an element of a pair whose other specimen whose cover is now missing is kept at the Taipei Palace Museum.
A character phonetically translated as zha may be the name of the artist. This piece that has been submitted to successive epigraphic interpretations for nearly two centuries is now named Zhou Zha Hu.