If this openwork plaque strikes by the schematic and powerful character of the animal in profile, mouth wide open, it is its rarity that makes it both interesting and interpretatively complex. In the absence of a similar object found in an easily interpretable archaeological context, its meaning and function must be deduced, as much as possible, from its observation. The only clue as to its use is the socket at its base, which was used to fit it, as well as the eyelets allowing the passage of links or the attachment of mobile ornaments. Bronzes such as the Metropolitan Museum's Ceremonial Halberd Blade could also provide clues as to its usefulness.
This is obviously more symbolic than practical. Unable to assign this plate an identified material function, seeing in it an emblem, possibly attached to a chariot or a staff to be used in the manner of a banner, appears to be the most probable hypothesis. In this context, the animal represented here could be the mark of a clan. The dorsal ridges and clawed legs would suggest identifying this pattern as a dragon kui, an omnipresent creature on the bronzes of the Shang (c. 1600 – c. 1050 BC) and the Zhou.
Western Zhou (c. 1050 – 771 BC), XNUMXth – XNUMXth century BC. J.-C.
H. 25 cm
Gift of the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum, 1991
Photo credit :
© Paris Museums / Cernuschi Museum