Its also a #bronze #vessel #westernhandynasty a #ZUN and an "object d'art" and despite the inlaid ornament is a fairly accurate depiction of a #rhino !
There seems to have a trend in this era for vessels and small sculptures shaped like tigers dragons rhinos and elephants with the animals being depicted with varying degrees of either realism or stylization.
The disturbing thing about this is that it suggests that either elephants and rhinos were still common in parts of China where they are extinct now or that these animals were used as subjects because they were becoming suddenly increasingly rare outside of remote forests or private wildlife preserves / hunting parks ?
Apart from the environmental history aspect its a magnificent example of how the Chinese created objects that can be defined as functional sculptures or vessels with sculptural values. Many of the best Chinese sculptures are small to medium sized objects and vessels in jade wood clay lacquer or bronze less so in larger stone though. Although the Chinese could carve and shape jade boulders large sculptures in the round in stone vary considerably in quality.
It is a lovely piece of art though however you define or describe it and whatever its story is ?!