Vessel composed of a hemispherical bowl on a high stem with splayed foot and a lid. The bowl has two ring handles and the lid three. The surface is decorated with small protruding beads on a background of tiny interlaced snake-like creatures.
This traditional vessel, called a dou in Chinese, was produced between 525-475 BC during the Eastern Zhou period (771-221 BC). Vessels of this sort had been produced since the Neolithic period (5000-1700 BC), but were typically made of ceramic in many regions of China. During the Western Zhou dynasty (1050-771 BC) it became routine to cast these vessels in bronze and use them in various ceremonies and death rituals.
The tiny interlaced snake-like creatures, which decorate many Eastern Zhou bronzes, are used on this example as background to a pattern of small protruding beads distributed symmetrically on the surface. The shape of the vessel, characterised by a hemispherical bowl on a high stem, was extensively reproduced during the Song dynasty (960-1279) when a taste for archaic objects was shared by the imperial court and wealthy élites.