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Chinese Neolithic Li Blackware Tripod Vessel

East Asia, China, Xiajiadian culture, ca. 1500 BCE. A very important Bronze Age tripod greyware vessel with a dramatically flared rim created by the Xiajiadian peoples of the northeastern section of China, a culture that in time shifted from a pastoral civilization to one with more defined social divisions. While tripod vessels were first created in China in the early Neolithic period (7000 to 5000 BCE), those with hollow legs resulting in the characteristic Li tripods as well as Gui tripod pitchers did not appear until the middle Neolithic era (ca. 5000 to 3000 BCE). Numerous scholars have associated the shapes of these tripods with the udders of goats and cows, and have concluded that they were used for significant ritualistic activities. Size: 6.625" W x 10" H (16.8 cm x 25.4 cm)

The hollow legs indicated a technological innovation that is particular to the Chinese. According to the curatorial staff of University of New Mexico's Maxwell Museum, "By the time the hollow legs were created, ceramic technology allowed for vessels that could be placed directly in a fire without fear of cracking. As evidenced by scorching and soot found on excavated examples, Li and Gui tripods were placed directly into the fire where their contents could be heated and cooked more economically than in earlier vessels. The shape remained popular for many centuries, eventually being replicated in bronze during the Shang and Zhou dynasties." (https://www.unm.edu/~toh/china/tripod-vessels.html)

A very similar vessel sold at Christie's New York on September 4-5, 2002 for $4,780. (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-chinese-neolithic-black-pottery-tripod-vessel-3959305-details.aspx)

Condition: Chips to rim. Expected surface deposits and earthen deposits packed in ends of legs. Remarkable that it is intact, considering its age.

Provenance: private Omer Claiborne collection, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; acquired over the last 40 years

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