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Bronze "Ding" food vessel
Centimetres: 33.9 (length), 26.6 (outside diameter)
1299-1100 BC
Bronze Age; Shang dynasty; 13th to 12th century BC
Area of Origin: China
The Reuben Wells Leonard Bequest Fund; Purchased from Frank Caro, New York

Description: The bronze ritual vessels dating from the Shang dynasty (sixteenth to eleventh century BC) held offerings of food and drink made to the gods and spirits of the ancestors. They were produced in a number of different shapes; each one had a specific function. This shape known as a “ding” was used for cooking meat, another type known as a “gui” held grain, and there are containers for wine and water.

The decoration consists of a narrow band around the neck filled with six pairs of profile dragons on a spiral ground. The body of the vessel is almost completely covered with a geometric design of interlocked T's on a squared spiral ground. The most interesting feature on this vessel is the stylized animal head at the top of each leg. The large inward-curving horns may represent the heads of wild rams.

Publications: 1. Ackerman, P. 1945. Ritual Bronzes of Ancient China. New York. pl. 15.
2. 1992. Homage to Heaven Homage to Earth. Toronto: Far Eastern Dept. Royal Ontario Museum. pl. 45.
3. Shen, Chen. 2002. Anyang and Sanxingdui. # 14.

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