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“Hao” Zeng-shaped Vessel with a Steam Pole
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2022.03.17 15:46:07


Measurements: Height 15.6 cm, Mouth Dia. 31 cm, Pillar height 13.1 cm
Period: Late Shang dynasty (1300--1046 BCE)
Provenance: Unearthed from the Fuhao tomb, Yin ruin in Anyang, 1976

Of a large basin form, with a wide flaring mouth, deep belly, two handles on two sides, and a band of groove on the rim which is likely for fitting the cover. Graceful patterns were cast on the outside, a hollow pole stands in the center surmounted by a top end in the form of a flower bud with four “willow leaf-shaped” perforations. The inside of the vessel was inscribed with a Chinese character “Hao”.

As a steaming utensil in ancient China, Zeng was jointly used with tripod cauldron (Li) as a set which was known as Yan. The food was placed inside the Zeng which was stacked on the Li containing water, when the water boiling after heating the Li, the vapor would go through the hollow pole and the four perforations on the top to get inside the Zeng to steam the food. The design principle is highly similar with that of modern steam pot.

Fuhao tomb was intact before excavation, thus it yielded a great quantity of burial goods, of which 109 bronze wares bear inscription “Fu Hao”, which include the present “Hao” Zeng-shaped vessel with a steam pole.