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Taibao Tetrapod: A Delicate Bronze Ware

Nov 9, 2009

Name: Tai Bao Ding Tetrapod | 中文名: 太保鼎
Dated to: ~1020-996 B.C. | Culture: West Zhou Dynasty
Unearthed: ~mid 19th century @ Shouzhang, Shandong | Current location: Tianjin Museum
Dimension: mouth 36x23cm, height 50.7cm


This bronze ware perhaps was unearthed around mid 19th century during Daoguang or Jiaqing era of Qing Dynasty at Liangshan, Shouzhang County, Shandong Province. There are six other bronze wares unearthed at the same time. All together, they are known as “Seven Treasures of Liangshan”. As the most precious one of seven, Taibao Ding was owned by several people, such as Li Zong-dai, Ding Lin-Nian, Xu Shi-chang, etc. Xu even wrote a poem “Song for Obtaining the Ding” to celebrate his ownership.

In 1958, the descendants of Xu donated this to Tianjin Museum.


Taibao ding is a square vessel, with two handles on each side. Some crawling beasts were cast on the handles. On the main body, beast face patterns and leaf patterns took most area with several spines. On the legs, there are four (one on each) delicate disk designs, which is quite unique.


Inside the vessel, there are three inscribed characters, saying, “太保铸 (Cast by Tai-bao)”. Tai-bao is the name of an official position. This “Tai-Bao” specifically refers to the infamous West Zhou Minister: Zhao-gong-Shi.

[Forbidden Treasure of China Series]
This is the 12st of 64 culture heritages that the government of China forbids to exhibit abroad. The complete list is here. In Chinese.

[Chinese Keywords]
国家一级文物 禁止出境

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