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Bronze belt hook

 

Length: 14.800 cm

Asia OA 1980.7-29.1

Room 33: Asia

    Bronze belt hook

    From China
    Late Eastern Zhou dynasty or early Han dynasty, 3rd-2nd century BC

    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, a practice that was stimulated by contact with nomadic tribes. 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.

    This example is made of bronze, inlaid with silver in geometric designs. The bar-shaped hook terminates in an animal head.

    C. Michaelson, Gilded dragons: buried treasur (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)