The gong and the zun may both become zoomorphic with a high degree of three-dimensional realism. The zun is designed for its ease of pouring, with a spout lined with broad lips. The gong or guang is an open vessel equipped with a removable lid over its entire upper surface.
On March 15 in New York, Christie's sells a gong in the form of a ram 22 cm long, lot 526 estimated $ 6M. This piece is de-accessioned from the Fujita Museum in Osaka.
The back of the beast consists of the lid which is elongated to the superb head with its C-shaped horns. The body including the cover is embellished in shallow relief with the same traditional motifs as in the geometrically shaped vessels : taotie, stylized beasts. The thick legs ensure the stability of the vase. The back is surmounted by a dragon and a bird positioned like a handle.
The catalog of the auction house considers twelve other complete quadruped gong or zun examples of Shang period, all of them kept in museums : buffalos, elephants, fabulous animals, a boar, an elephant. The last one offered at auction was a buffalo zun in 1988.
Considering the sacred or sacrificial use of some of these animals, the extreme rarity of these pieces may surprise. It is probably due to a high difficulty of execution.
SOLD for $ 27M including premium