Length: 8.000 cm
Bequeathed by Oscar Raphael
Asia OA 1945.10-17.223
Bronze belt buckle in the shape of a horse
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.
J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)