The inscription cast inside the pan consists of a yaxing clan sign placed above two characters, 'Father Ding'.
Pan were shallow basins used as ritual vessels to hold water. They were used in conjunction with a he or a yi to form a set of vessels for the washing of hands. They would have been included in the ritual vessel sets "required by an individual or family of a given period to perfom the customary ritual food and wine offerings to the ancestors." See J. Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIA, Washington, DC and Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990, p. 98. Such a set, of Middle Western Zhou date, from Shaanxi Fufeng Qijiacun M19, is illustrated in a line drawing, ibid., p. 99, fig. 142d.
A pan of similar shape, with the same type of handles, also cast with bands of cicadas on the sides and high foot, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is illustrated by Rawson, ibid., vol. IIB, p. 722, fig. 122.2. The cicadas on the Victoria and Albert example do not have the extended proboscis of those on the present vessel. Cicadas of this latter type can be found, however, on bands encircling the body and foot of a pan excavated in Liaoning province, and illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji - Xi Zhou, vol. 6, no. 2, Beijing, 1997, p. 25, no. 25, and on the body, but not the foot, of another pan excavated in Beijing, Liu Li River, Tomb no. 253, and now in the Capital Museum, Beijing, illustrated ibid., p. 24, no. 24. The latter vessel has handles similar to those of the present pan, but no. 25 has no handles. Both also incorporate the small animal mask in the band encircling the body.