Ding (Ritual Food Vessel)

11th century BCE

The Toledo Museum of Art

The Toledo Museum of Art

  • Title: Ding (Ritual Food Vessel)
  • Date Created: 11th century BCE
  • Location Created: China
  • Physical Dimensions: h222.25 mm (Complete)
  • Catalogue entry: Ancient Chinese burials during the Shang and early Zhou dynasties were often large pit tombs filled with precious objects created for use by the deceased in the afterlife. Vessels used as containers for food and wine are the most prevalent of ancient Chinese bronzes found by archaeologists. They vary widely in shape, from those used for storage (see p. 20) to those used for cooking, such as this tripod vessel known as a ding. The most important ritual vessels of the Zhou period, ding were used to cook food, especially meat, over a fire, with their three legs straddling the coals. Many ding vessels show evidence of burning and carbonization on the belly of the pot, confirming their actual sacrificial, not just ceremonial, use during state and religious rites. Sets of ding connoted high rank in the strict Zhou lineage system.Because the Zhou initially adopted the shapes and decorative motifs of the bronze vessels of the conquered Shang Dynasty, there is often little difference between bronzes made in the Shang Dynasty and the early Zhou Dynasty. However, the unusually thin legs and use of the taotie (animal mask motif; see p. 20) on the body of this ding help to date it to early in the Western Zhou Dynasty, because the taotie ornament, seen here above each leg of the vessel, all but disappeared within a couple of generations after the conquest of the Shang,
  • Type: Metalwork
  • Rights: Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey
  • External Link: Toledo Museum of Art
  • Medium: Bronze