Diameter: 12.500 cm
Gift of Sir A.W. Franks
Asia OA 1885.12-27.92
Jade pendant in the shape of a dragon
Qing dynasty, 18th-19th century AD
Modelled on an ancient pendant
In ancient China, jade pendants were strung with beads to make ornaments which hung from the waist or shoulders. They were referred to in classical Chinese texts and idealized as emblems of virtuous men. They were also recognized as signs of rank; nobles and officers were entitled to pendants of prescribed materials and colours.
Pendants in many different animal shapes were made as early as the Hongshan culture (about 3800-2700 BC). These shapes were copied and adapted in later periods.
The Chinese have always admired and collected objects inspired by past traditions. This pendant, dating to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), was inspired by an example dating to the Zhou dynasty (1050-221 BC). It is easy to distinguish from the ancient jade, because it is heavier, more colourful and more ornate than the original would have been.
J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)
J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)