Bronze vessels were items of luxury and power throughout the entire Zhou period, and changes in the types and decoration of these vessels illustrate the many cultural and political shifts that characterize this long and complicated era of Chinese history. The forceful cow heads decorating the handle tops of this gui food vessel exemplify the Western Zhou interest in depicting animals. Yet the decoration of this bronze, in particular the taotie (mythical creature), continues a Shang decorative repertory. An inscription reading zuo baoyi, "made this precious vessel," is cast into the base of the interior. As can be seen by comparison with other examples, this vessel once had a cover that may have been turned over and used as a serving plate.