About this artwork
On this vessel, monster masks are cast in bold, high relief against a background of finely squared spirals, in a style that reflects the fullest development of Shang surface design. Each mask is composed of prominent horns, eyes, nose, upper jaw, and ears. The low ridge or flange, which bisects each mask, marks a division in the clay mold assembly used to cast this vessel. This type of three-legged cauldron is the most common of all ritual vessels; even after the end of China’s Bronze Age, it remained a symbol of the political authority and legitimacy of the ruling house. Cast on the inside wall is the family emblem: Bing.
Originally golden in color, this vessel developed a surface corrosion or patina during centuries of burial underground. It was subsequently cleaned, recoated, and darkened probably by heating. The resulting smooth, blackish brown surface is characteristic of many bronzes that have come down to us from collections of the 19th century and earlier. This vessel had been in the collection of the eminent court official Duanfang (1861-1911).
- Tripod Cauldron oF Ran (Ran ding)
- Made 1200 BC–1000 BC
- Overall: H. 24.4 × diam. 18.9 cm (9 5/8 × 7 7/16 in.); H. 19.1 × diam. 18.9 cm (without handles) (7 1/2 × 7 7/16 in.)
- Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection