The latest from the Chinese Collection

28 February was a banner day for the Chinese collection at Compton Verney.


First, we had a visit from one of China’s foremost archaeologists. Dr. Xu Tianjin (徐天进), Director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Archaeology at Peking University, led a group in examining Compton Verney’s bronzes.

Dr Xu was able to get a close look at a number of the outstanding pieces in the collection, such as the owl-faced fangjia. It was especially interesting to hear his views on how such finely detailed casting had been carried out in the 11th -12th century BC.



Many of the excavations Dr Xu has led have taken place in China’s ‘Northwest’, homeland of the Western Zhou dynasty, and later, the famous Terracotta Army. A number of the pieces examined by Dr Xu had a connection to the Northwest or the Western Zhou.

Here, Dr Xu is transcribing the inscription on the Western Zhou Teng Hu gui.


He was particularly interested in the dramatic wine container, called a you. Vessels in this style are strongly associated with the Western Zhou, but Dr Xu thinks this vessel was cast in central China and then taken back to the northwest, perhaps as war booty.


He was able to examine the pottery tripod, li, also from China’s northwest. While the li is a common vessel type among China’s Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures, they are most often found in pieces, an intact li of this size is a rarity indeed.




Dr Xu was accompanied by several graduate students from Oxford University and research fellow Dr Peter Hommel. The visit was arranged by Compton Verney Governor, Dame Jessica Rawson.



Also on February 28th, we were informed by Arts Council England that our bid for funding a re-display of the Chinese collection, under the Designated Development Fund, had been successful. We are now able to move forward with our plans for a comprehensive redisplay of the collection, opening to the public in March, 2015. Keep an eye on this space for further updates on the redisplay.




(Photos by Catherine Travis, Graduate Marketing Officer)

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