Gilt Bronze Hu Measuring Vessel Cast in the Twenty-First Year of the Jianwu Reign - View 1

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum
Beijing, China

This set consists of two pieces: the hu measuring vessel above and the plate that serves as a base below. The set is gilt with gold. The hu vessel has a cover. Its body is decorated with broad band designs and features symmetrically placed heads that hold rings in their mouths. The vessel and plate are each supported by three feet sculpted in the shape of crouching bears. Each bear is inlaid with gemstones of various colors; most of these jewels are missing. An inscription of sixty-two characters is engraved in one line below the edge of the saucer. This text records how the measuring vessel was cast in the twenty-first year of the Jianwu reign (45 CE) in the Commandery of Shu under the rule of the emperor Guangwu of the Eastern Han dynasty; it also includes the names of the craftsmen responsible for the different stages involved in manufacturing the vessel. The inscription implies that craftsmen and supervisors at the commandery were fulfilling an imperial commission. A distinct division of labor existed for the casting of bronze vessels, and the regulated practice of engraving worker's names on the vessel guaranteed the quality of the product. This piece is called a hu, a vessel used to measure capacity. Bronze capacity measures appeared in the Warring States Period, but the bulk of extant bronze hu measures dates to the Warring States Period (475-222 BCE), the Qin dynasty (221-207 BCE), and the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE).

full view of the item


  • Title: Gilt Bronze Hu Measuring Vessel Cast in the Twenty-First Year of the Jianwu Reign - View 1
  • Physical Dimensions: overall height: 41 cm, height: 33 cm, mouth diameter: 33.5 cm; plate diameter: 57.5 cm
  • Type: bronze
  • Dynasty: Eastern Han dynasty (25-220)

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