Dragon-Shaped Gong

Shang Dynasty, 16th - 11th century BC
Shanxi Museum

This Shang dynasty gong is shaped, as usual, like a dragon with bottle horns; its body, however, is elongated compared to other examples. The object is a wine container, made beautiful by the bronze-caster's art. A close up of the dragon's head, and rubbings of the reliefs on the dragon's body, are shown at left.

The top of the dragons's body is a lid, that is lifted by the raised knob that can be seen in the photo. This knob could also be used to tie the lid to the body of the vessel, as is usual in Chinese objects and those from other early cultures, by means of a cord that would be wrapped around its stem and underneath its body. The relief on the lid is a top view of a sinuous, twisting, snake-like form. A Chinese alligator and other motifs are seen in relief along its side.