Paleographic, art historical, metallurgical, and archaeological data are used to identify the monumental bronze tetrapod ding vessel as a preeminent symbol of state authority and divine power during the Shang era of ca. 1640–1046 b.c.e . Paleographic data based on oracle bone terms and inscriptions includes reference to ding as a verb of ancestral sacrifice, and the ding vessel in the specialized compound, yiding, referring to the ritually and metamorphically empowered ding vessel. Art historical data accounts for differences in form and style between ding tetrapod and tripod types. Metallurgical data derives primarily from a unique source of high radiogenic lead in southern China exploited during the early Shang period. Archaeological data derives from excavated Shang tetrapod ding in royal burial or cache burials.