Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Inscription on the San Family basin

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Inscription on the San Family basin

Wu Dacheng

Chinese, 1835-1902

The earliest Chinese scripts, from the second and first millennia BC, were carved on oracle bones and cast on ritual bronze vessels. Their uneven structure and unpolished directness provide sharp contrast to the sophisticated calligraphy of later ages.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the primitive quality of these ancient scripts was much appreciated, and the style was revived as a major form of calligraphy. Wu Dacheng was one of its champions. Here he has transcribed a famous inscription that originally appeared on Sanshi pan, a bronze basin dating from the ninth century BC.

Ink on paper
Dimensions overall: 147.2 cm (h) x 32.5 cm (w)
Dimensions of Painted Image: 103.2 cm (h) x 29.7 cm (w)
Gift of Judith G. and F. Randall Smith in honor of Mimi Gardner Gates
Provenance: F. Randall and Judith Smith
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Shu: Reinventing Books in Contemporary Chinese Art, Aug. 9 - Dec. 2, 2007.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Pure Amusements: Wealth, Leisure, and Culture in Late Imperial China, Dec. 24, 2016 - May 15, 2022 [on view Jan. 3 - July 1, 2018].

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM