Chinese bronze food vessel valued at $3m

A 13th-11th century BC Chinese bronze ritual food vessel is expected to make up to $3m later this month.

The exceptional piece will lead an auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on September 14-15.

Chinese bronze Shang

The bronze belonged to a member of the Ya Yi clan 

It was commissioned by a member of the Ya Yi clan, a powerful family from the Hennan province of China that was closely tied with the Shang royal family.

The Shang dynasty (circa 1600-1046 BC) is among the earliest in Chinese history, following on from the Xia dynasty (circa 2070-1600 BC).

The earliest Chinese ritual bronzes date back to around 1600 BC and were used as grave goods for high status figures. They're designed to hold offerings of food and wine.

Interestingly they’ve been collected for thousands of years. Catalogues tracking the bronzes in the imperial collection have been preserved from as far back as the Song dynasty (960-1279 AD).

The best and biggest examples are hot commodities, particularly in their native China.

Last year Christie’s set a $37.2m world auction record for a Shang dynasty wine vessel .

The sale will feature pieces from across China’s long and storied history, including a pair of zitan compound cabinets from the 19th century that is valued at $550,000-750,000.

Zitan is a hardwood that is highly prized in China for its quality and enormous rarity. It takes hundreds of years to grow from seed to harvest.

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