Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The move of the Zhou capital eastward in the wake of nomadic invasions marked a diminution of Zhou authority and the rise in power of surrounding states. Although in the earlier Western Zhou period, bronze was employed primarily for ritual vessels, weapons, and tools, during the Eastern Zhou era, it began to be used to make mirrors, bells, and chariot fittings as well. Bronze mirrors were polished smooth on their reflective sides, and their backs were intricately decorated with auspicious symbols or cosmological designs. Their reflectivity was believed to create light in a darkened tomb and to ward off evil. Chariots were vital for military warfare, and those of the powerful were fitted with ornate finials and attachments, which during the Warring States period (475–221 BCE) were often inlaid with precious stones and metals. This technique was also employed with greater frequency in the casting of bronze vessels, revealing yet another shift in the function of such objects, from commemorative status symbols to more decorative vestiges of a ritual tradition.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1943.52.37.A
Title
Finial in the Form of an Animal Head (One of a Pair)
Classification
Ritual Implements
Work Type
finial
Date
475 - 221 BCE
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Henan province
Period
Zhou dynasty, Warring States period, 475-221 BCE
Culture
Chinese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/204648
Location
Level 1, Room 1600, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Bronze Age to the Golden Age
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Cast bronze with gold and silver inlay
Technique
Inlaid
Dimensions
H. 3.5 x W. 5.4 x L. 7.6 cm (1 3/8 x 2 1/8 x 3 in.)
Provenance
Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
1943
Object Number
1943.52.37.A
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
THIS WORK MAY NOT BE LENT BY THE TERMS OF ITS ACQUISITION TO THE HARVARD ART MUSEUMS.
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Exhibition History

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

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu