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Bronze Yu Fou (Water Vessel) with Panhui Design

Spring and Autumn period (771-476BC)

Height: 29cm; Diameter at mouth: 19.2cm; Diameter at belly: 33cm; Diameter at bottom: 17cm

Unearthed from Damaoping, Xiangxiang, Hunan province in 1965

It is a water vessel formerly called Bu with stylized dragon as handle and round whirls on the shoulders on Panhui (refers to a kind of dragon-like monster)ground. This vessel, in the color of pale green and blue in between, is designed as small mouth, big belly, round shoulders and flat bottom. There is a handle in the center of the vessel lid, and with four rectangle holes symmetrically arranged around. The lid is thickly dotted with Panhui and triangle-shaped patterns. Two lines are made to divide all the patterns into three regions from inside to outside. Two dragon’s heads are decorated at two shoulders as handles. Four circular-disk-shaped patterns are designed around the shoulders, with the two-line spirals inside and Panhui patterns outside. The belly is decorated with Panhui and trilateral patterns. And the patterns at the belly are divided into four groups by three transverse lines. This Fou, exquisite in design and excellent in quality, is a typical Chu State vessel in the late-middle Spring and Autumn period.

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Bronze Yu Fou with Two Rings at Each Side

Unearthed from Niuxingshan, Xiangxiang, Hunan Province in 2002

Bronze Ding with Inscription (three-legged ancient Chinese cooking vessel)

Unearthed from No.2 Tomb, Xiasi, Xichuan, Henan Province in 1978

Bronze Fou

Warring States Period

Height: 41.5cm; Diameter at mouth: 15.4cm

Zenghouyi Fou Set

From left to right: lid, Jian, vessel

Front row: a wine ladle; lid

Celadon Porcelain Fou (ancient musical instrument)

On the Functions of Bronze Fou

Since Western Zhou (1046—771BC), ritual bath has become a significant part of imperial sacrifice etiquette. People at that time would take a bathbefore the sacrifice ceremony to show their respect. During the Spring and Autumn period, Chu State was located in the subtropical climatic region where it was hot and humid in summer and with heavy rainfall; therefore, taking the bath was even more frequent to Chu people. With the evolution of such a ritual bath, Chu people gradually invented a set of sacrificial vessels for bath, which is, using Ding to heat the water, using Fou as a water container and using Jian to bath. Obviously, such a large number of Fou vessels unearthed from that period were closely related with their sacrifice etiquette and ritual bath custom. And Fou is a kind of typical vessel used by Chu people.

Apart from the function of tools used for taking the bath, Fou could also be used as wine vessel and music instrument in the past.