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Tripod Caldron (Ding)

A work made of bronze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of bronze.


Eastern Zhou dynasty, Spring and Autumn period (770–481 B.C.), late 6th century B.C., State of Jin



About this artwork

In the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., bands of continuously entwined dragons became the hallmark of a new decorative style. This style of flat, interlaced ornament, combining profile heads and snakelike trunks, came to be known as “Liyu” after the town in northern China where a hoard of similar bronzes purportedly came to light in 1923.

The source of these bronzes remained unknown until 1957, when archaeologists working at the Jin state capital of Houma (southwest of Liyu) discovered thousands of pieces of foundry debris—most importantly, fragmentary clay blocks that were carved with intricate surface designs and then baked. These hard, reusable”pattern blocks,” were used as die-stamps to impress patterns in clay piece-mold assemblies and thereby facilitated the mass production of identical décor. The surface design of this vessel closely corresponds with that seen in pattern blocks found at Houma. Those finds point to Houma as the almost certain place of manufacture of this vessel, which was used for cooking food.


On View, Gallery 132


Arts of Asia


Tripod Caldron (Ding)


China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

599 BCE–550 BCE




33.6 × 34 cm (13 1/4 × 13 3/8 in.); Diam.: 34 cm (13 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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