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Gallery Text

As its name implies, the Warring States period (475–221 BCE) was an era during which various states that were ruled by powerful clans competed for supremacy in China. The high demand for luxury goods to furnish the tombs of wealthy nobles enabled numerous artistic traditions to flourish, resulting in an array of ornate artifacts from this period and the subsequent Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE). Bronze vessels continued to be commissioned by the ruling elite during both eras, but the addition of gold and intricate openwork designs (here seen on the gilt bronze pedestaled dou and the small openwork pou vessels) transformed this previously austere tradition into a more decorative artistic craft. Jade containers made in shapes traditionally used for bronze or lacquer vessels (such as the three exhibited here) were the epitome of ostentation, as there was no better way to demonstrate wealth than to reproduce a luxury item in a more expensive medium.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Circular Mirror with Relief Decoration of Lions, Birds, and Other Animals against a Fruiting Grapevine Arabesque
Work Type
late 7th-8th century
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Tang dynasty, 618-907
Persistent Link
Level 1, Room 1600, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Bronze Age to the Golden Age
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Physical Descriptions
Cast bronze
Diam. 21.2 x Thickness 1.8 cm (8 3/8 x 11/16 in.)
Private Collection (by 1949), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1949.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Anonymous Gift
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Exhibition History

32Q: 1600 Early China II, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

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