Ritual Tripod Cauldron (Ding), Bronze, China

Ritual Tripod Cauldron (Ding)

Shang dynasty (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.)
ca. 13th century B.C.
H. incl. handles 10 in. (25.4 cm); H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm); Diam. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); Diam. of rim 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Addie W. Kahn, 1949
Accession Number:
Not on view
This imposing ding tripod cauldron, is a classic example of late Shang form and decor. It has a large swelling bowl complemented by two massive handles, a heavily molded rim, and three sturdy columnar legs. The decorative frieze, which covers the entire surface of the bowl, features three large taotie masks whose oversized horns rise prominently above a ground of incised spirals. Six vertical flanges with deep notches intersect the decoration at equal intervals, three of them aligning with the legs and the other three forming the central axes of the masks. Except for minor decorative details, this tripod is almost identical to those excavated from Anyang.

[Zhixin Jason Sun, Ancient Chinese Bronzes in the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Orientations, March 2015]
Inscription: Three Chinese characters.
Addie W. Kahn , New York (until d. 1949; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.