Late Shang dynasty (c. 1700 – c. 1050 B.C.E.) / Western Zhou dynasty (c. 1050-771 B.C.E.)
6.75 x 9.375 inches diam.
The fine detail of this bowl illustrates the artisan’s expertise in bronze casting and in surface decoration. Its expansive surface allowed for a geometric placement of protruding lozenge shapes on the bowl and a stylized repeating dragon design around the outer rim. This food vessel served in a complex ritual whereby a sacred meal would be presented in honor of royal ancestors. The original surface would have shone like polished brass. In a short time the surface would turn black with exposure to moisture in the air. Then, after thousands of years, contact with soil would produce the patina seen here.
Sullivan, pp. 15-16