A medium sized bronze ding, or tripod. The swelling bowl of this ding rests on three cylindrical, exactly vertical legs, which are made of solid metal. The flat upturned rim is set with two loop handles. The upper part of the bowl is encircled by a narrow band of taotie masks. The ding is covered with malachite encrustation developing into a smooth and even patina overall.
The bronze ding, a cooking utensil in remote times, was used like a cauldron for boiling fish and meat. At first, about 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, the ding was made of fired clay, usually with three legs. With the advent of the slavery system, China entered the bronze age, and the earthen ding was gradually replaced by the bronze one. In time, it assumed the role of an important sacrificial vessel used by the slave-owning aristocrats at ceremonies of worship.
The ding of this historical period have a unique shape and are often decorated with patterns of animal masks and other distinctive features characteristic of animal masks and other distinctive features characteristic of the period. They are important material objects for the study of the ancient society. Towards the end of the slave society, the ding became a vessel which, by its size and numbers, indicated the power and status of its aristocrat owner. At rites, the emperor used a series of 9 ding, the dukes and barons 7, senior officials 5, and scholarly gentlemen 3. From the number of ding yielded by an ancient tomb, one can tell the status of its dead occupant.