| Situla vessel

Dong Son culture
north Vietnam

Situla vessel 5th-3rd century BCE
42.7 (h) x 39.5 (w) x 37.5 (d) cm
Musée Barbier Mueller, Geneva
© Musée Barbier-Mueller Photograph: Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet


Situlae functioned as receptacles for liquids and for the bones, including skulls, of nobles and sacrifice victims. This ancient vessel shows a vibrant battle scene with boats crewed by figures in feather headdresses. The beheaded may represent defeated enemies or victims sacrificed for feasts marking increased social status. Few inscribed situlae are known to exist and the Chinese characters describing the capacity of this vessel were probably added more than a century after it was cast.

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