Title:Lei (Ritual Wine Vessel)Artist:Artist UnknownDate:late 4th century B.C.Creation Place:Asia, China, Lo-yangCredit Line:Bequest of Alfred F. PillsburyAccession Number:50.46.112
This exquisitely crafted vessel ranks amongst the world's finest examples of late Chou dynasty inlaid bronzes. As religious beliefs changed, ritual bronzes became less sacred and more profane in use and decoration. By the late Chou period, a secularization of bronze ornament had occurred. The sacred masks and symbolic animal motifs of Shang and Western Chou were increasingly replaced with abstract surface ornament such as "hook and comma" patterns, granulation or, as in this case, metallic inlay. This splendid geometric, brocade-like pattern of gold and silver inlay was done to delight the eye rather than inspire religious reverence.