A three-legged ritual vessel in Chinese tradition whose origins predate the Shang dynasty (c.1523-1028 BCE). It was used to hold food offered to ancestral spirits, and was also a ground ornament. Fantastic creatures, symbols, even written characters recording ritual procedures were cast into it's surface's design. In its typical Shang form, the ding was a sturdy, lidless vessel mounted on straight legs. In vernacular English, a ding might be a dent.Also see Chinese art.