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                                                               Sui Gong xu   
                                  Western Zhou Dynasty (1046B.C.-771 B.C.)

This bronze xu is a food vessel that dates back 2900 years ago in mid-Western Zhou period. The original lid is now missing. Although its appearance is by no means imposing, its inner bottom is engraved with a 98-character inscription, the earliest documentary record that contains the tale of "King Yu tames the flood" and the notion of "engaging in politics with ethics" which would be extremely important for the study of China’s ancient history. The inscription can be regarded as a prose of political comments whose diction and style are unprecedented in the Chinese bronze inscriptions of both Western and Eastern Zhou Dynasty, but are quite close to the existing document Shangshu and other ancient literature. Thus it is of significant value for exploring the origins of Chinese ancient books and articles. For such reasons, this inscription is acclaimed by scholars as "the most valuable text of the Zhou Dynasties".
According to the opinion of Prof. Li Xueqin, chief scientist of the Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project and former director of the CASS Institute of History, this bronze xu was then made by the Lord of the state of Sui which was established by descendants of Shun, one of the legendary "Three Emperors and Five Sovereigns " in ancient China. The inscription on this xu is beautiful in fonts, concise in words, and thinly scattered in character arrangements. The first part of the inscription records how King Yu tamed the flood by flattening certain hills, blocking the flood and dredging channels to lead the flood waters to the sea before demarcating the nine districts in ancient China and specifying different tributes and taxes according to different land conditions of each district. When the flood finally subsided, people were resettled on the plain from those hills and mountains that they had fled to. For all his credits, King Yu was hailed as “the King for the people”. Then the inscription elaborates on ethics and the notion of governing with ethics, and instructs the people to conduct themselves based on ethics.
 


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