Hollow-Legged Tripod (Li Ding)

Hollow-Legged Tripod (Li Ding)

late 900 BC


Diameter: 27.7 cm (10 7/8 in.); Overall: 23 cm (9 1/16 in.)

Gift from various donors by exchange and the John L. Severance Fund 1961.203


This food vessel exhibits a new decorative trend of metropolitan Western Zhou foundries. Zoomorphic images became increasingly abstract and subject to linear elaboration. The dominating animal mask (taotie) of the Shang is here transformed, dissolved, and dissected into intricate patterns of curving bands and median grooves. The design is abstract but not devoid of symbolic contents and functions. A smooth and even gray-green patina--the result of natural corrosion during burial--covers the outside and creates a new visual impact on the surface decoration.

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