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Asian art

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Circular cauldron 'ding'

11th century BCE


Unknown Artist


The exterior body is decorated with hanging blades filled with cicadas, a symbol of rebirth in China. Above these is a band with alternating whorl circles and metamorphic faces of the mystical animal 'taotie', each dominated by large eyes and curving horns. As with all such bronzes, this 'ding' was made from ceramic piece-moulds which had been sharply incised with intricate designs that were then perfectly rendered in bronze. The three characters incised inside the tripod 'fu fu geng' indicate that the vessel was cast for the deceased father of the Fu clan on the day of 'geng'. This 'ding' is significant not only because of its superb quality but also its prestigious provenance: it was formerly in the Chinese imperial collection from at least the early 1700s to the late 1800s. Over the years 1749-51, under the auspices of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty, the courtier Liang Shizheng and others compiled a fully illustrated catalogue, the 'Xiqing gujian', of the 1529 bronzes owned by the emperor. Some of these works were removed from the imperial palace in Beijing and fell into the hands of private collectors during the turbulent period at the end of the Qing dynasty.

‘The Asian Collections: Art Gallery of New South Wales’. pg.71
© 2003 Trustees, Art Gallery of New South Wales


Other Title

Ding cauldron with 'taotie' masks and cicada motifs

Place where the work was made



11th century BCE

Media category


Materials used



21.5 x 18.0 cm


Bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Sue Ebury, The many lives of Kenneth Myer, Melbourne, 2008, (colour illus.). eighth image between pages 464 and 465

Emma Glyde, Look, 'Exploring the breadth of China's rich culture', pg 30-31, Sydney, Nov 2012, 31 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Bronzes and Jades', Sydney, 2003, 71 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, AGNSW Collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 188 (colour illus.).