Explore highlights
Jade plaques

 

Length: 5.600 cm (1-2)
Width: 15.400 cm (1-2)
Length: 5.600 cm (1-2)
Width: 15.400 cm (1-2)
Length: 5.600 cm (1-2)
Width: 15.400 cm (1-2)
Length: 5.600 cm (1-2)
Width: 15.400 cm (1-2)

Asia OA 1989.6-13.1-16

Room 33: Asia

    Jade plaques

    From China
    Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century AD

    A set of sixteen carved belt plaques

    This set of ornately carved belt plaques comprises sixteen pieces in several different shapes. The plaques would have been attached to a textile belt, using the small holes around the edges and on the back. The openwork decoration features dragons and flowers.

    Jade belt sets appeared in China as early as the third to fourth century AD, based on gold or gilded bronze originals made in countries to the West. By the Tang dynasty (618-906), belt sets were worn as indicators of rank and status, specifically regulated by dress codes. Jade, as always in Chinese history, was considered the most precious material for belts and other ornaments, and its use was restricted to the highest levels. Civil and military officials of the third rank or higher (on a scale of one to nine) wore jade and gold belts; those of lesser ranks were less splendidly attired. Dragons and other Chinese motifs decorated some Tang dynasty belt sets, but others had foreign designs.

    By the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the belt was the predominant ornament for men. Jade belts were restricted to officials of the first rank, but based on tomb excavations, this regulation seems to have been widely disregarded.

    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)

    Highlights

    Browse or search over 4,000 highlights from the Museum collection

    Shop Online

    Analysis of Chinese Coins, £19.00

    Analysis of Chinese Coins, £19.00