The long reign of Wu Din marks the culmination of the Shang around 3250 years ago. He resides in the new capital Yinxu which is today in the territory of the city of Anyang.
The tomb of Fu Hao, discovered in 1976, had never been visited by looters. This wife of Wu Din had a considerable political influence, even becoming the supreme general of the armies. Her tomb is a complete catalog of the art of the Shang, including 1800 pieces mainly in jade, bone, bronze and stone, not forgetting 6,900 cowry shells that served as money and 16 skeletons of sacrificed slaves.
The ritual bronzes of the Shang had a wide variety of shapes suitable for storage and cooking. The rites defined the quantities of sacrificial vessels authorized according to the social position. Under the Zhou who overthrew the Shang the king could use 9 ding and 8 gui while a nobleman was limited to 3 ding and 2 gui. The tomb of Fu Hao contained the incredible quantity of 200 ritual bronzes.
On March 15 in New York, Christie's disperses the Chinese art collection of the Fujita Museum in Osaka, including four Shang bronzes. The catalog indicates for each of these pieces an acquisition prior to 1940 by the museum. Their similarity to the bronzes of Fu Hao and the comparable or sometimes superior quality of their technique and of their mystical decoration suggests that these four vessels came from a same royal tomb. They have kept their cover, except of course the zun which never has one.
Lot 523, estimated $ 6M, is a 52 cm high vessel with a complex three-body shape. By its large flared mouth (zun) of square section (fang), it is a fangzun.
Lot 524, estimated $ 5M, is a fanglei 63 cm high including its cover. By comparison the Father Ji's fanglei, sold for $ 9.2M including premium by Christie's on March 20, 2001, is 64 cm high without its lid which is lost and is dated from the Shang-Zhou transition two centuries later.
Lot 525, estimated $ 4M, is a pou 57 cm high. Its two-body shape with a round belly on a truncated cone base is archaic but its decoration is comparable to the other pieces in the sale.
Lot 526 is the sensational zoomorphic gong that was the subject of a previous discussion in this column.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's to introduce the sale.
RESULTS including premium :
Fangzun : $ 37M
Fanglei : $ 34M
Pou : $ 27M