New shapes appeared. The basin was elevated on three or four high and thin legs to be used as a kettle. The open form of the ding is the most common. At the end of the Shang dynasty the zun is partially enclosed in its top and equipped with a removable cover. With its long cylindrical spout the ying of the Western Zhou already looks like a teapot.
The solidity and stability of bronze excite the ancient artists and the four legs invite to fully zoomorphic figurations anticipating from two millennia the aquamaniles of the Middle East. Small animal figures in round bump also appear on various pieces.
Ying is extremely rare. One of them was sold for $ 470K including premium by Sotheby's on March 19, 2002 in the auction of the Ellsworth collection. A tiger standing on the handle of the pot poses its front legs on the handle of the removable lid, ready to pounce on a reclining bull. An inscription identifies a person who is either the artist or a dedicatee.
Only five other ying were known, all in museums. The piece sold by Sotheby's was the only ying with a tiger.
A seventh ying has just surfaced somewhere in Kent with period letters that identify where it came from. In 1860 just after the sack of the Summer Palace, a captain of the Royal Marines bought it in the auction organized on the site by the British command to disperse the looting. A thermoluminescence report is available.
This tripod ying 26 cm high weighing more than 4 kg is mounted on a trifoliate base in zitan from Qing period. The surfaces are carved. The piece is decorated with two tigers. These symbols of animal power and of protection against demons are somehow guaranteeing that the liquid has not been contaminated by the container.
One of the tigers is lying in a realistic round bump on the cover. The other more stylized feline surrounds the spout in an ithyphallic position. Without having the dramatic effect of the Ellsworth specimen this pot is also one of a kind. It is estimated £ 120K for sale in Canterbury on April 11 by The Canterbury Auction Galleries, lot 450. See also its description and story in the blog post published by the auction house.
SOLD for £ 410K before fees