About this artwork
The buttonlike knob on the back of this small garment hook served to fasten a belt or robe. A dragon of jade curls sinuously within its bronze mount—a composite creature combining a bull’s head and a serpentine body terminating in a fishlike tail curled over one horn. The dragon’s finely incised curls are echoed in a complex pattern of gold and silver embellishing the mount. Thin strands of these malleable metals, applied individually or compacted together into thicker ribbons, were pressed into grooves in the bronze, then ground flush with the surface and polished to a high luster. This combination of descriptive and abstract patterns—facial features, scales, volutes, and spirals—is a masterwork of metallic inlay.
The jade dragon is datable about three hundred years earlier than the inlaid bronze garment hook in which it was carefully set. The exquisite “recycling” of ancient jades demonstrates their value to those who inherited or discovered such pieces and then custom-designed new contexts for their use.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Garment Hook
- 310 BCE–90 BCE
- Bronze inlaid with gold and silver and inset with jade
- 8.3 × 8.3 × 2.0 cm (3 1/4 × 3 1/4 × 13/16 in.)
- Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection