Chinese Bronzes by Mario Bussagli

By Mario Bussagli

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Museur of Fine Arts, Bostor ***•'' iiiuflft 'mttil r -"i" '" - 14. Bronze Chueh for libations of Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. warm wine. Late Shang. 15. Tripod vessel. Chia type. Shang period. W. Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 16. Bronze vessel with four legs. Chia type. British Museum, London. Shang period. merge vision the — animate which and inanimate one chaotic with the search in perfectly in keeping is for the symbolic which is part of all Shang decoration. Other forms usually reveal their origins quite clearly, as happens with the ku, which are probably cups made from animal horns.

At times, as happens above all with Kuang objects, the animal form is identified and becomes integrated with that of the vessel; this perhaps results from a desire to 32 1 . early Ritual vessel with spout. Chou. Freer Gallery Ho of Art, type. Late Shang period Washington. or Chalice. Ku type, from Anyang. Shang period. W. Rockhi Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 2 . 3. Spiral ornament with dragon's head and neck. Middle Chou. W. Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. Table leg or support in bronze.

Shallow, without must have been designed for ritual They all have a circular base. The plastic value of these works is certainly remarkable. The most favoured forms, especially those which feature animals with more or less fanhandles, these ablutions. tastic shapes, confer on the vessels something of the quality of sculpture, either in a stylised or abstract form. The search for form reveals a well-defined and unmistakable taste as well as great creative flair. There remains, however, the problem of the origin of the forms themselves.

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