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Han Hu with Handle and Lid - H.861
Origin: China
Circa: 206 BC to 220 AD
Dimensions: 15" (38.1cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Style: Han Dynasty
Medium: Bronze

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This slender bronze hu would have once functioned as a container of sumptuous wines two thousand years ago. This refined hu is remarkable for the handle and lid that survive intact, attached to the body by chains. The chains, in turn, are connected to two small Tao Tieh mask handles. These stylized animal heads represent a type of dragon found in Chinese mythology. The lid has also been adorned with a stylized floral motif rendered in low relief. These abstracted representations demonstrate the influence of previous styles, such as the Zhou Dynasty, on the art of the Han. A series of ringed handles also hang from the lower half of the body, just above the rim. However, these handles were likely purely decorative; although it is possible that a rope could have been wound between them to assist in the transportation of the precious wines contained within. Over the ages, the bronze has acquired a fabulous patina of alternating green and burgundy hues, adding both delightful colors and pleasing textures to the work. Forged from bronze, this hu would have been the treasured possession of an elite member of the Han Dynasty social hierarchy. Quite simply, only a court nobility of wealthy merchants could afford such a luxury. Although this vessel would have functioned as a wine container in life, it was found discovered buried in a tomb. A symbol for the bountiful pleasures of life, for drinking and feasting, this hu would have represented the joys to be experienced in the afterlife and the feasts and celebrations yet to come. Today, this vessel is not only a gorgeous work of art, treasured for its history and rarity; but also a stunning reminder of the richness and luxury of the Han Dynasty, both in this world and the next - (H.861)

 

 

 

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