Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Art of Ancient China

What is a fang ding?

A fang ding is a square or rectangular vessel with four legs and is an example of ritual bronze made during the Shang dynasty, one of China’s earliest dynasties (c. 1700–211 38 B.C.E.). Bronze vessels like the fang ding were associated with ancient Chinese shamanism and were used to hold food and wine offerings during religious ceremonies. Many fang ding have been found in royal tombs; the largest vessel discovered weighs over 240 pounds. They were often decorated with intricate animal and geometric motifs.

Seven thousand terra-cotta soldiers and horses protect Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang in a palatial tomb. Buried approximately three thousand years ago, Emperor Qin’s incredibly life-like terra-cotta army was accidentally discovered in 1974 and remains only partially excavated.


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