Weight in the Form of a Ram
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.
206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.
height: 1 1/2 in.
length: 3 1/4 in.
Gift of Alan and Simone Hartman
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