This circular belt ornament is characteristic of the kingdom of Dian, which radiated over a vast territory located in the current province of Yunnan, before being integrated into the Han empire (206 BC-220) in the second century before our era. The culture of Dian is characterized in particular by a very original art of bronze. Made of this metal, this object has in its center an agate protuberance surrounded by a mosaic of small discs of malachite, a material whose use is recurrent in the material culture of the kingdom of Dian. A fastening element located on the back side confirms its function of joining the ends of a belt.
Some plaques of this type, intended for the elite, also featured a frieze of passing animals in openwork high relief around them. The plate kept at the Cernuschi Museum, which is simpler, recalls the belt ornaments worn by the dancers and singers represented on the bronze objects from Shizhai shan, a major archaeological site excavated in the 1950s. original differ profoundly from the belt hooks used in the Han empire: in this sense it is a marker of the cultural identity of the kingdom of Dian.
Kingdom of Dian (c. 298-109 BC)
Bronze, Agate and Malachite
H. 2,7 cm; D. 18,2 cm
MC 2007-24, Gift of the SAMC
Photo credit :
© Carole Rabourdin – Paris Museums-Cernuschi Museum.