The Perpetual Prosperity—Special Exhibition of Ding Vessels Donated to Shanghai Museum

There are only a few days left of this special exhibition of bronze Ding at Shanghai Museum. Titled “Perpetual Prosperity”, this exhibition showcases 21 bronze Ding which have all been donated to the Shanghai Museum since its founding in 1952.

The Ding was a cooking pot in ancient China, and later became a type of ritual vessel more than three thousand years ago. It was often cast in bronze, an extremely scarce material at that time. Through its different usage, the Ding was used to represent different social classes. Very often it was regarded as being the most symbolic of supreme power in all bronzes.

The two main objects of this exhibition are “Dayu Ding (大盂鼎)” and “Dake Ding (大克鼎)”. They were originally donated to Shanghai Museum by the Pan Family. In 1959, Dayu Ding was transferred to the National Museum of China in Beijing. Both Ding contain long inscriptions on their inner walls. These two Ding, along with Maogong Ding (毛公鼎) in the National Palace Museum in Taipei, are known as “The Three Treasures of Bronzes”. They were all cast in the Western Zhou Dynasty (ca. 1046 BC–771 BC).

Dayu Ding was cast in the middle of the 11th century BC. It contains 291 characters on the inner wall, which records the historical event of the emperor conferring a title to the noble named Yu. The inscription is not only an important piece of historical record for researching the ceremonial system of the Western Zhou Dynasty, but also a great example of the large seal script (zhuanshu, 篆書) used at that time.

Dake Ding was cast at the end of the 10th century BC. Its inner wall records the praise by its owner Ke to his ancestor and the ceremony of the emperor conferring a title to Ke.

Next week, these two Ding will travel to the National Museum of China for another exhibition.

(Correspondent and Photographer: Xu Jia)