Ritual food vessel (ding)

Three cabriole legs support the hemispherical bowl of this vessel. Bisecting the vessel is a pair of inverted U-shaped handles, rectangular is cross sections; these are attached to the body just below the wide everted lip, and bend upward at a sharp right angle. Two short bars at the lip provide additional support for each handle.

As on ding (cat. no. 1) the decoration on the bowl comprises a narrow band under the lip and a wider one covering the rest of bowl to the tops of the legs. Filling the narrow band are recumbent C shapes, alternately prown and supine, each with an intaglio median line and an oval eye. Every C-shaped unit is asymmetrical, with two arms of differing lenth, configuration, and detail emanating from the central eye. The arrangement of these elements varies from one C-shaped unit to the next. Filling the wider register below are thre tows of imbricated scale motifs, each marked by double sunken lines. On the outward- and inward-facing surfaces of each handle, contered on the transverse section of the handle, is a round, eye-like motif, flanked on both sides by scales running the length of the handle. On their upper and lower curves the handles are undecorated.

The quality of the casting is poor. A conspicuous vertical mold mark runs u the outer surface of each leg and continues over the body to the rim, interrupting the design. Mold marks are also visible on the vessel behind the handles, and on the edges of the outer surface of each handle. Additional mold marks bearing prominent metal flashes run up an inward-facing edge of each leg and across the underside of the vessel to the adjacent legs, enclosing a roughly finished triangular area inside which curved ridges form a second triangle. Core material is visible on the inner face of each handle and in the open backs of the legs. The short bars supporting the handles have been broken and repaired. A small sample of core from the handle was shown by thermoluminescence test to have been fired in antiquity.

The alloy has an exceptionally high lead concentration (25.2%), observable as interangular lead deposits and lead nodules. The other components are copper (67.0%) and tin (5.9%). The grayish green surface is encrusted with dull brown deposits. A small hose pierces the vessel above one leg, and one of the handles shows a casting defect.

Historical period(s)
Eastern Zhou dynasty, 8th-7th century BCE
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
H x W x D: 25 x 38.1 x 33.9 cm (9 13/16 x 15 x 13 3/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Elizabeth A. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.321
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Ritual vessel: ding

Keywords
casting, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Three cabriole legs support the hemispherical bowl of this vessel. Bisecting the vessel is a pair of inverted U-shaped handles, rectangular is cross sections; these are attached to the body just below the wide everted lip, and bend upward at a sharp right angle. Two short bars at the lip provide additional support for each handle.

As on ding (cat. no. 1) the decoration on the bowl comprises a narrow band under the lip and a wider one covering the rest of bowl to the tops of the legs. Filling the narrow band are recumbent C shapes, alternately prown and supine, each with an intaglio median line and an oval eye. Every C-shaped unit is asymmetrical, with two arms of differing lenth, configuration, and detail emanating from the central eye. The arrangement of these elements varies from one C-shaped unit to the next. Filling the wider register below are thre tows of imbricated scale motifs, each marked by double sunken lines. On the outward- and inward-facing surfaces of each handle, contered on the transverse section of the handle, is a round, eye-like motif, flanked on both sides by scales running the length of the handle. On their upper and lower curves the handles are undecorated.

The quality of the casting is poor. A conspicuous vertical mold mark runs u the outer surface of each leg and continues over the body to the rim, interrupting the design. Mold marks are also visible on the vessel behind the handles, and on the edges of the outer surface of each handle. Additional mold marks bearing prominent metal flashes run up an inward-facing edge of each leg and across the underside of the vessel to the adjacent legs, enclosing a roughly finished triangular area inside which curved ridges form a second triangle. Core material is visible on the inner face of each handle and in the open backs of the legs. The short bars supporting the handles have been broken and repaired. A small sample of core from the handle was shown by thermoluminescence test to have been fired in antiquity.

The alloy has an exceptionally high lead concentration (25.2%), observable as interangular lead deposits and lead nodules. The other components are copper (67.0%) and tin (5.9%). The grayish green surface is encrusted with dull brown deposits. A small hose pierces the vessel above one leg, and one of the handles shows a casting defect.

Published References
  • Jenny F. So. Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. Ancient Chinese Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. 3 New York, 1995. cat. 2, pp. 86-89.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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