Le Tigresse is from the late Shang Dynasty period, about 1250 BCE. It is from Hunan Province and measures about 2 feet high. The vessel was intended to hold fermented beverages and is unquestionably the most famous and splendid object in the Cernuschi Museum. The vessel depicts a feline, a tigress with an open mouth, holding a small human in a close embrace with its front paws. For years, I had thought of the small human figure as a child. But on closer inspection, it appears that it may well be an adult. Is it a Diminutive Africoid? Whether adult or child, the features are clearly Africoid and may well be a depiction of one of the Diminutive Africoid-types associated with early China, protected in the powerful embrace of a tigress.
Le Tigresse is by far the most spectacular of such vessels. It is a Yu vessel. In addition to Le Tigresse, in the Cernuschi Museum in Paris, there is a similar and near identical artifact in the Sumitomo Collection in Kyoto, Japan.
M. Cernuschi, c’est un monsieur qui est parti en Chine et au Japon. Il a acheté pleins de statues, et il est revenue en France. Il voulait que les gens voient toutes ces statues. Il a construit une grande maison parce qu’il en avait 4.000. Il voulait que sa maison devienne un musée.