Henan Museum
The Bronze Zu (Chopping Block) with Patterns of Openwork Dragons
Edit: Acf
Time: 2024-01-15 11:06:06
Period: Spring and Autumn Period (770--476 B.C)
Provenance: Unearthed in No.2 tomb at Xiasi of Xichuan county, Nanyang, Henan province, 1978
Measurements: L. 35.5 cm, W.21 cm, H. 24 cm, W. 3.85 Kg


With a roughly waisted, slightly concave cutting board, the object has four flat and tapering legs, whose cross section are in a groove form. The chopping block was decorated with eight dragons, with four in pairs on the cutting surface, others on the four legs. The four dragons on the four legs correspond to their counterparts on the top in a head to head posture, thereby the designing notion of multiple-angle symmetries was represented on the whole.


Zu”, the chopping board, was a traditional food and ritual implement in ancient China. In the course of the sacrifice, meat was taken out of the Ding cauldron with a ladle and placed on the Zu, followed by finely cutting for offering to ancestors. The ancient ritual texts state that the number of the Zu used by the aristocrats of varied ranks largely corresponded to the number of the tripod cauldrons (Ding) they were entitled to deployed, for instance, the number of Zu used by the King of Zhou dynasty was nine (which was reserved for the emperor’s exclusive use), nevertheless, the class of scholar-officials used only three. Apparently, the deployment of Zu reflected the ritual code of the time to some extent.