Dragon Pendant

A work made of jade.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of jade.

Date:

Eastern Zhou dynasty , Warring States period (c.480–221 BC)
c. 4th/3rd century B.C.

Artist:

China

About this artwork

These matching pendants were designed as serpentine dragons with backturned heads, coiled tails, and small fins that project above and below their undulating trunks. The rhythmic fluency of these creatures belies the unyielding quality of jade—a compact, fine-grained stone that cannot be carved and must be worn away with abrasive paste applied to its surface with saws, grinders, and drills. The craftsman’s remarkable dexterity with this intractable material is displayed in smoothly rounded, heart-shaped units and delicately incised spirals, striations, and cross-hatching that thoroughly enliven both the front and back surfaces. Their substantial size and thickness, technical refinement, and glossy polish point to aristocratic patronage. That these pendants were likely designed to drape down the owner’s shoulders or from a waistband is indicated by holes pierced for suspension through the creatures’ hindquarters. Toward the end of the Bronze Age when these pendants were created, sinuously curved dragons had become prominent motifs in many luxurious materials. Contemporary literature suggests that such dynamic creatures were not merely decorative but also envisioned as supernatural beings. When buried with the deceased, jade pendants like these may have reflected widely held beliefs in the dragon as a vehicle that could transport the human soul on its journey to the netherworld.

On View

Asian Art, Gallery 132

Title

Dragon Pendant

Origin

China

Date

400 BC–200 BC

Medium

Jade

Dimensions

8.6 × 16.5 × 0.6 cm. (6-1/2 × 3-3/8 × 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Edward and Louise B. Sonnenschein Collection

Reference Number

1950.641

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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