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Back Calligraphy Calligraphy Gallery Bronze Ding vessel with Mao Gong Inscription

Bronze Ding vessel with Mao Gong Inscription

A very famous bronze called Mao Gong Ding ( 毛公鼎 ), now kept in Taiwan, belongs to the late Western Zhou Dynasty. It bears an inscription of 497 characters, the longest ever discovered on any bronze unearthed.

It is an account of how the king of the Zhou Dynasty, Xuan ( 宣王 ), admonished, commended and awarded Mao Gong Yin; it also reveals the instability of the Western Zhou regime at the time.



Creation Date: Late Western Zhou Dynasty

Start Year Date: B.C.850

End Year Date: B.C.771

Dynasty: 07 Western Zhou (c. 1100 ~771 B.C.)

Creation Place: China

Measurements: Height: 53.8 cm; Weight: 3450g

Material: Bronze

Form: Ding (cooking vessel)

Type: Bronzes

Repository: The National Palace Museum, Taipei


Mao gong ding has a belly in a semi-spherical shape and firm and sturdy legs in the shape of ox hooves. Its clear and simple ribbon patterns, although seemingly naive and unrefined, is nevertheless typical of the style of a late Western Zhou ding.

The 500-character inscription can be divided into seven parts. The main gist is as follows: when emperor Xuen of Zhou ascended to his throne, he desired to make progressive reforms in the court, and therefore appointed his uncle, Duke of Mao, to be the prime minister to govern domestic and foreign policies, and from general matters to meticulous details.

And seeing that the excellent duke was impartial and public spirited, he ordered the people from Mao's clan to become the palace guards. Moreover, the emperor awarded Duke of Mao with large sums of treasure. To show his gratitude for the emperor's generosity, the Duke of Mao cast this bronze ding to pass on to his descendents so that they could commemorate this event and cherish the vessel forever.

From the content of this inscription, one can assume that Mao gong ding was made in the beginning years of emperor Xuen's reign (827 B.C), therefore, it pre-dates the Shangshu Book of Documents. Because of this reliable and significant historical record about the Western Zhou, Mao gong ding is known as a world-class treasure.




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Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 July 2011 03:54