Recent archaeological excavations in China have identified the original function of these superbly decorated objects. The fitting is part of a parasol mount for a chariot. The two parts of the fitting were mounted on sections of a wooden pole, one part was inserted in the other, and the clasp in the shape of a tiger locked them in place. The care and costly materials expended on these items point to the growing importance of luxury accoutrements in the Zhou dynasty, when personal objects began to compete with bronze ritual vessels as objects of display.
Socketed tube coupler with beading at contiguous ends. Holes for securing pins. Reddish brown bronze inlaid with silver. Inlay design based on geometric patterns emphasizing volutes. Inlay technique of silver used in sheets cut to pattern and in threads. Lower beading connected with a tiger applied in relief; the animal head is used to open the gate and then to lock the coupler. The representational modeling of this tiger is probably the finest of the type yet known. Condition: Generally good, one end of a coupler is cracked. Cleaned by Joseph Ternback, Forest Hills NY