Length: 7 1/4 inches, 18 cm
Width: 1 1/4 inches, 3.2 cm

Bronze and silver inlaid fitting

Han dynasty, 206 BC - 220 AD

A bronze fitting inlaid in silver with a decoration in two registers, separated by raised bands of silver, the middle ring with a frieze of 5-shaped ornament. In the upper register two confronting dragons can be seen, looking forward and striding amidst cloud scrolls and wild waves. The bottom register is also decorated with two confronting dragons, here with the heads turned back, their complicated, sinuous bodies vertically depicted. The bottom of the fitting has a band of pendant leaves.

The precise purpose of this beautifully decorated fitting is unclear, but similar fittings are often described as chariot fittings. The inlay bears great resemblance to a crossbow fitting formerly in the collection of Julius Eberhardt.1 The shape and decoration can be compared to a much larger fitting that was made to hold a wood shaft supporting a canopy over a chariot.2

  1. Krahl, R.: Collection Julius Eberhardt, Early Chinese Art, Vol 1, Hong Kong, 1999, plate 122f
  2. Ben Janssens Oriental Art, Catalogue 2019, p.18-19