A ceremonial cooking pot with wooden stand: 14 x 12cm diameter.
(Chinese: 鼎, dǐng), formerly romanized as ting, were prehistoric and ancient Chinese cauldrons, standing upon legs with a lid and two facing handles. They are one of the most important shapes used in Chinese ritual bronzes. They were made in two shapes: round vessels with three legs and rectangular ones with four, the latter often called fanding. They were used for cooking, storage, and ritual offerings to the gods or to ancestors. The earliest recovered examples are pre-Shang ceramic ding at the Erlitou sitebut they are better known from the Bronze Age, particularly after the Zhou deemphasized the ritual use of wine practiced by the Shang kings. Under the Zhou, the ding and the privilege to perform the associated rituals became symbols of authority. The number of permitted ding varied according to one's rank in the Chinese nobility: the Nine Ding of the Zhou kings were a symbol of their rule over all China but were lost by the first emperor, Shi Huangdi in the late 3rd century bce. Subsequently, imperial authority was represented by the Heirloom Seal of the Realm, carved out of the He Shi Bi jade; it was lost at some point during the Five Dynasties after the collapse of the Tang.
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