This elephant-shaped vessel is made entirely with bronze during the Shang dynasty. At first glance this piece has several different designs and texture. All over the elephant, one can see the shapes of animals like a tiger and a phoenix. The tiger represent the force of the army while the phoenix represented the just rule of the emperor. Elephants were used for purpose of peace, war and religion. The most obvious feature is the texture showing a tiger on the very top of the elephant's trunk. The texture on this elephant shows the incredible skill of the artist. The fact that there was no extra color painted on the elephant gives it an appearance of sturdiness and power, symbolistic of the roles of the different animals portrayed.
Bishop, C. W. Journal of the American Oriental Society (Vol. 41). American Oriental Society.
Dragons; Qilin and Phoenix in China. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://www.chinasage.info/dragons.htm
Four Divine Creatures in Ancient China. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2016, from http://traditions.cultural-china.com/features/four_divine_creatures/