This square ding from the early Western Zhou dynasty was used for the ceremonial presentation of food. It differs very little in function and shape from Shang-dynasty versions. However, instead of the usual taotie masks of Shang examples, this piece is decorated with birds, one of the favored motifs of the early Western Zhou dynasty. Even the legs of the vessel consist of three-dimensional birds. Only the handles escape this decor.

This vessel is said to have been discovered in 1924 in Fengxiang, Shaanxi, in the heart of Zhou territory. A five-line, thirty-five-character inscription is cast along the inner side of one of the walls and extends over part of the bottom. It can be translated:

Then the Duke of Zhou undertook a punitive campaign against Dong I, Feng Bo and Fu Gu, and wiped them out. He returned to perform the X sacrifice in the Zhou temple. On the wuzhen day, they drank Qin wine and the Duke gave Ran a hundred strings of cowry-money to be used for the making of this sacrificial vessel.

The Duke of Zhou was regent during the reign of Chengwang, third of the Zhou rulers. He was later much praised by Confucius for his virtuous rule.


  • Title: Ritual food vessel
  • Date Created: Western Zhou period (approx. 1050-771 BCE)
  • Location Created: China; probably Henan province
  • Physical Dimensions: H. 25.4 cm x W. 22.9 cm x D. 16.5 cm
  • Type: Metal Arts
  • Medium: Bronze
  • Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection, B60B2+

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