Pair of Belt Hooks

  • China
  • China, Late Eastern Zhou period
  • 5-3cB.C.
  • Bronze, Gold, Silver
  • D-9
Catalogue Entry

The dragons in this pair of belt hooks are S-shaped and look back at their tails. A human right hand grasps the middle of each dragons'tail. The other end of the human arm forms the head of another smaller dragon. In the center of the S-shaped back, there is a round button on a short stem for attaching to the belt. The head of the smaller dragon forms a hook to catch the end of the belt. Small projections with a slightly curving, slender S-shape, from near the joint of the dragons' front paws, are probably an expression of the small wings which are a typical feature of such dragons. The body of the dragon is semi-three dimensional, rather like a relief. The hook shows essentially a birds-eye view rather than a fully expressed dragon body.

These two hooks were apparently cast in almost the same-sized mold. However, the length of the right hook from the human arm to the smaller dragon's head is longer than that of the left hook. The motifs of gold and silver inlay on the large dragons' heads, wings, the joints of the paws, the human wrists, and the smaller dragons' heads, are varied. The surface of the back of the left hook is inlaid with silver, expressing scales. The area around the button is inlaid with gold and silver. However, there are no inlays on the back of the right hook and the button is now missing.

The expression in this dragon, including the shape of the body, the small wings, the millet-grain-shaped pattern in details, the pattern of lines, and the appearance of the claws, is reminiscent of dragons featuring a birds-eye shape found on bricks with which were excavated from palace No.1 in Xianyang, the capital of the Qin in Shaanxi Province during the Warring States Period.*1 The representation of the dragon heads shows similarities with the dragon heads on chariot fittings in the British Museum from Luoyang-Jincun in Henan Province and from Guweicun Huixian in Henan Province.*2