Homecoming set for 'king' of ancient bronze wine vessels

Homecoming set for 'king' of ancient bronze wine vessels
The bronze wine vessel, known as Min Fanglei, has been considered the "king" of its kind since its discovery in 1919.

Hunan Provincial Museum will welcome home a 3,000-year-old Chinese bronze wine vessel on June 14.

A group of Chinese collectors struck a private deal for the sale of the vessel with auction house Christie's New.

York and donated it to the Hunan Provincial Museum, which has been the home for the vessel's lid since 1956. "We attributed the return of (the vessel) to the joint efforts of various parties, the government, private collectors and private enterprises," said Chen Yuanping, head of the cultural relics bureau of Hunan province. "We're glad that we finally bought it back in the name of the Hunan Provincial Museum."

The bronze wine vessel, known as Min Fanglei, has been considered the "king" of its kind since its discovery in 1919 because it is "the biggest and finest ever found", said Fu Juliang, a researcher from the Hunan Provincial Museum who specializes in bronze.

The vessel, at a height of 63.6 cm, is massive, Fu said.

With powerful proportions and superb casting, the ritual bronze wine vessel represents a defining masterpiece, not only of Chinese art, but also within the context of global art history, Fu added.

The vessel got its name soon after its discovery based on the eight characters inscribed on its lid, Fu said.

"The eight-character inscription in ancient Chinese means that a man named Min Tianquan created this wine vessel for his father," Fu explained.

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