Bronze Jar with Scenes of Feasting, Fishing, Hunting, and Fighting - View 1

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum

This jar is characterized by a flaring mouth, sloping shoulder, round body, and short ring foot. Two ring-shaped handles hang down from animal heads on the jar's shoulder. The surface is divided into two segments on which motifs are placed symmetrically. Narrow horizontal bands with flat, triangular scroll patterning divide the vessel surface into four pictorial registers. Each is subdivided vertically into two scenes.
The first register is on the neck. The design on the left depicts five women picking mulberry leaves, representing the ceremony in which royal women offered sacrifices to the divinity of sericulture. The right features an archery contest. A man with armor and a sword appears to be selecting material for bows. Four other men shoot arrows at a target in front of a structure. A classical Chinese text records that in archery the target is called hou, while the center of the target is called gu. This design represents a traditional archery ceremony.
On the upper part of the body, the second register also has two scenes. A scene of feasting and music is on the right, while the left shows bird-hunting with corded arrows. Seven people drinking inside a pavilion, while two slaves with food containers cook outside. Below these images, people dance and play musical instruments. Three figures strike musical bells. Another strikes stone chimes, while yet another strikes a drum and bell with a short drumstick. The last figure plays a horn-shaped instrument. The other scene depicts five people in different positions shooting arrows while hunting animals.
The third register includes a scene of land combat on the right and one of a naval battle on the left. Two groups engage in the naval battle. Figures on a boat use weapons with long handles. At the end of the boat, a warrior beats a drum to hearten his fellows. The weapons in the water imply soldiers in the river. On the land, the warriors wear scarves and hold weapons. The archers extend their left legs and pull their bowstrings. Some raise ladders and run toward the walls. Although the space on the jar is limited, the images include great detail and vividly portray each figure's movement in battle. Since the lower part of the jar's body is larger, it contains the most figures.
The forth register features hanging leaf motifs that reflect an elegant, formal aesthetic. This bronze jar with its varied portrayal of impressive activities is a masterpiece in the history of art.

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  • Title: Bronze Jar with Scenes of Feasting, Fishing, Hunting, and Fighting - View 1
  • Physical Dimensions: height: 31.6 cm, mouth diameter: 10.9 cm, body diameter: 21.5 cm, weight: 3.54 kg
  • Provenance: Qing imperial collection
  • Type: bronze
  • Dynasty: Early Warring States Period (475-222 BCE)

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