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Tapir shaped vessel

China , 1736 - 1795

Recipiente a forma di tapiro

This vessel was originally used for pouring wine during ceremonies. It is shaped like a tapir with a massive body, short legs and upright ears. The shape and decoration are reminiscent of the ancient zoomorphic bronze “zun” vessels, which date back to the Shang Dynasty (about 1600-1046 B.C.) and knew a new fortune from the Northern Song period (960-1126 A.D.). The back of the animal has an opening with a lid, while the belly is hollow to hold the wine.The underside and legs of the animal are gilded; the legs are full so the piece is very heavy. The glaze (blue, green, yellow, red, and white on a light turquoise background) is missing in places. Chinese governors collected rare overseas animals, and the tapir, which, then as now, came from Malaysia, was one of the animals in their private zoos.

Data Sheet




1736 - 1795

Material and technique

bronze and cloisonné enamel


25 cm x 35 cm


Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli bequest, 1879

Inventory number

Porcelain Room

The small room houses the exceptional fireplace vase parure, a gift from the Zerilli Marimò family, and two portraits by Giacomo Ceruti.


Gathered in the Jewellery Room, there are sacred items, enamels, jewels, objects de vertu that create a collection heterogeneous and the same time unique for its rarity and high quality. Among the highlights, Medieval Limoges enamels, works by Renaissance Lombard goldsmiths, 16th century jewels, 19th century parures by Fortunato Pio Castellani.

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