Length: 19.000 cm
Width: 3.000 cm
On loan from a private collection OA 22:1
Room 33b: Chinese jade
China, Eastern Zhou period, 4th-3rd century BC
This arched belt hook is made from silvered and gilt bronze inlaid with jade plaques. Jade was first used to embellish belts and other dress hooks in the seventh and sixth centuries BC, at a time when other luxurious materials such as gold, silver and semi-precious stones were being used to enrich both weapons and belts. Garment hooks of both gold and jade have been discovered in excavations dating to the Eastern Zhou (771-221 BC) and Han periods (206 BC - AD 220). The jade examples appear to be imitatations of those made in gold.
This is an example of a belt hook where jade was used as an inlay, rather than for the complete artefact. It has imaginary animal faces at both ends, and the hook itself is the head of a small creature, its neck drawn down to the animal's head that lies at the top of the main panel. Between the heads the bronze is cast to frame the settings of four rectangular jade plaques with incised taotie (monster faces). These pieces of jade were probably recycled from some older jade artefact that had broken. Two buffaloes lie back to back along the main section of the hook, their bodies in sharply angled planes. Small glass beads cut in half are set at either end.
J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)