Bronze bull head

From China
Eastern Zhou dynasty, 4th-3rd century BC

This bull's head and a dragon-like head (now at the Freer Gallery, Washington, DC) were recovered from horse pits, perhaps a chariot burial. They were found next to tombs near Luoyang, capital of the Eastern Zhou dynasty (771-221 BC). The tombs have been identified as those of Zhou kings, which explains the very high quality of the bronzes discovered there.

The two animals' heads probably ornamented chariot shafts. A rectangular socket at the back, pierced top and bottom with square holes, fitted the head to a wooden shaft.

The bull's head is fully cast in the round. It has projecting ears, large eyes and modelled nostrils and jaw. Gold and silver inlays enhance the features. The eyes were once set with glass, which has now disintegrated.

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More information


J. Rawson, Chinese bronzes: art and ritua (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)


Length: 17.500 cm
Width: 21.500 cm

Museum number

Asia OA 1934.2-16.3


Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund


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