Skip to Content
Today Open today 11–5

Tripod Cauldron oF Ran (Ran ding)

A work made of bronze.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of bronze.


Late Shang dynasty, 13th–11th century B.C.



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).


On View, Gallery 131


Arts of Asia


Tripod Cauldron oF Ran (Ran ding)


China (Artist's nationality)


Made 1200 BCE–1000 BCE




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.)

Credit Line

Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

Learn more.

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions