Bronze belt buckle in the shape of a horse

From Korea
Iron Age, 2nd-1st century BC

A symbol of rank

With the advent of the Iron Age in Korea (around 300 BC), bronze was replaced by iron as the material used for making weapons. Now that bronze objects played less of a practical role, the use of the metal acquired a more symbolic meaning. Bronze objects such as bells and mirrors were used in shamanistic rituals or spiritual ceremonies.

This bronze belt buckle is thought to be a symbol of rank, though not the highest: horse shaped buckles like this are commonly found throughout the Korean peninsula, and it is thought that the rarer tiger-shaped buckles indicated a higher official.

The horse's sturdy legs and compact shape display strong Scytho-Siberian influence where animal motifs, especially horses were often used in decoration. It is often called the 'Animal Style' of the Steppe. The simplified and rounded forms convey a feeling of power and energy.

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More information


J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)


Length: 8.000 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1945.10-17.223


Bequeathed by Oscar Raphael


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