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Comparing a Dou Vessel to a Zun Vessel Essay

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When comparing two relatively similar artistic objects from the same culture, there will invariably be similarities and differences between the two pieces. This is the case when analyzing a Dou Vessel from late 5th to early 4th century BCE China as well as a Zun Vessel from 13th century BCE. Both objects have similar purposes as well as certain aspects of design. However, they differ on other points of design and are also dramatically different in size. The parallels and distinctions of the two pieces are reflective of the cultural disparities and different methods of manufacturing during the two eras of creation. This particular Zun vessel was introduced during the Shang dynasties’ rule over China. Its production took place in close…show more content…
The Zun has intricate images woven through the entire object, including a variety of animal motifs. This can be interpreted as “steps towards bold assertive statements and even baroque ornamentation.” (Thorp, p. 85) There are multiple dragons inscribed on the image, a feature shared with the Dou Vessel. The use of animals signifies an understanding of the animal form as well as infusing life and excitement into the pieces. (Lee, p. 47) Both items also benefit from the implementation inlays. However, the inlay usage on the Zun vessel is black pigment. This is in stark contrast to the gold pigment inlay used in the Dou Vessel. The gold inlay in the Dou vessel, which has a leaf like decoration, symbolizes a new design characteristic that was not popular during the creation of the Zun vessel. (Lee, p. 48) In addition to the distinctions in uses of inlay, the two objects also differ greatly in size, possibly a reflection of the cultural differences. The Zun vessel has features that almost double that of the Dou vessel in terms of diameter and height. Unlike the Dou vessel, which contains handles, the Zun vessels’ ring base design compels one to carry the object on a shoulder. (Thorp, p. 73) This could in part be because during the Shang period, many of these pieces like the Zun were used for “cult” rituals and activities. (Thorp, p. 61) Drinking was a significant facet of some of these Shang offerings, which also included offerings in
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