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Ceremonial Tripod (Liding)

Bronze vessels such as this liding held food offered to ancestors. This particular shape was used for stewing meats. Vessels like this one could be used either in rites performed on an ancestral altar, or they may have been cast specifically for burial with the dead in their tombs. The animal forms and spirals that cover most of the surface of this liding are found on many bronze vessels, but there is no agreement among scholars as to what these designs may mean or even if they are meaningful.

China, Shang Dynasty
Ceremonial Tripod (Liding)
ca. 12th century BC
Cast bronze
H. 8 1/8 x 7 in. (20.7 x 17.9 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, William Lowe Bryan Memorial Fund, 58.41