Zun Ritual Wine Goblet
China; Shang dynasty; 16th-11th c. BC
Four vertical embossed ribs ornamented with T-motifs and incisions divide the goblet into fields. Stylized chanwen crickets and leiwen thunder cloud patterns can be seen inside the fields around the neck, with two one-legged kui dragons below each.
Commonly known also as the kuilong, the kui is a scaly, serpentine dragon which rises up to the sky in the spring and in the autumn sinks deep into the water. It symbolised the fertiliy brought by the rain and foretold a bountiful harvest and general prosperity. The cricket is a symbol of immortality and the rebirth of nature. Two taotie masks appear in the centre. The same motif is repeated on the stem of the vessel.