Japanese Antiques by Ichiban Oriental and Asian Art

An Inlaid Bronze Belt Hook,Warring States Period - Han

An Inlaid Bronze Belt Hook,Warring States Period - Han

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Metalwork: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1241384

Please refer to our stock # 46 when inquiring.
This remarkable 2000+ year old bronze belt hook has its slender shaft inlaid with a copper/gold alloy design forming two facing chilong dragons and several scrolls surrounding the chilongs. The eyes if the chilongs are executed in inlaid silver. The belt hook measures 9 7/8" long by 1 3/16" wide at its widest and 1" high at the top of the curve - it weighs 310 grams (11 oz). We date it to be as early as the Warring States Period (480-222 BC) to the Han dynasty ((206 BC -280 AD). From looking at examples of belt hooks from both periods, we lean towards the Warring States Period as the shape changed somewhat in the Han dynasty - with the round disc located more in the middle if the length - - the Han hooks had less of a taper - and the arch was higher.

The slender shaft tapers from a rounded base and terminating in a tapering dragon's head hook - the dragon head with two protruding eyes. The back of the hook has a disc-shaped knop for attachment. The piece is in very good condition - there is considerable verdis gris on the back and on the dragon head. In the middle of the hook there is a bit of missing inlay - located right above the disc knop on the back.

Footnotes: The belt hook was a fastener used in China. Belt hooks date to the 7th century BC in China, and were made with bronze, iron, gold, and jade. Texts claim that the belt hook arrived in China from Central Asia during the Warring States period, but archaeological evidence of belt hooks in China predate the Warring States Period.[

From an early date Chinese men used girdles to hold up their trousers. In the Eastern Zhou period (770-221 BC), belt ornaments came into common use. As horse riding became a way of life, belts were needed to hold up the trousers or fasten the jacket. The long robe known as a shenyi, which became popular at this time, was secured by a belt, and so also required a hook. A large number of garment hooks have been found in tombs of the Eastern Zhou period. Belt hooks quickly became items for elaborate ornamentation, in many materials. At the time, personal decoration became very important as a marker of status and wealth. Gold and jade hooks were made, with bronze and iron used as less expensive alternatives.