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Weight in the Form of a Ram

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
Before the chair was introduced to China during the Northern and Southern dynasties (386–589 C.E.), possibly as a result of the Silk Road trade, people sat on the floor or on low platforms, which were covered with straw mats that were stored rolled up. Decorative mat weights, usually in sets of four, held down the corners of a mat when it was being used. The mat weight in the form of three hornless dragons (chilong) circling a miniature magic mountain would have originally been fitted over a weighted core of lead or bronze, to make it heavier. Because the Chinese character for ram, yang, is part of the character xiang, symbolizing good fortune, the mat weight in the form of a ram is considered an auspicious image. The ram was a popular motif in Han-dynasty art, both in luxury goods and in the mortuary context.
MEDIUM Gilt bronze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES 206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.
    DYNASTY Han Dynasty
    PERIOD Han Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS height: 1 1/2 in. length: 3 1/4 in.
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 1991.127.9
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Alan and Simone Hartman
    RECORD COMPLETENESS
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