On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
Along with silver, gold, and ivory, turquoise was one of the precious materials sometimes used to ornament luxury objects during the Shang and Zhou dynasties. This garment hook would have been worn at the waist of a long robe by a member of the ruling elite; on the back is a small knob that would have attached to the robe or belt. The tie of the garment wrapped around the head of the animal, possibly a dragon, at the curved end of the hook. In later periods, Chinese connoisseurs appear to have lost their taste for turquoise, which was only rarely used in jewelry or other wares.
Bronze, inlaid with turquoise, silver, and gold
Warring States Period
Warring States Period
1 1/2 × 1 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (3.8 × 3.2 × 19.1 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Alan and Simone Hartman
Garment Hook, 475-221 B.C.E. Bronze, inlaid with turquoise, silver, and gold, 1 1/2 × 1 1/4 × 7 1/2 in. (3.8 × 3.2 × 19.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Alan and Simone Hartman, 1991.127.6. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1991.127.6_top_PS4.jpg)
top, 1991.127.6_top_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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Most East Asian pieces in the Infinite Blue exhibition seem to be turquoise. Is there a reason for that? Maybe availability of pigments and gems?
Turquoise is the primary blue stone that was used in East Asian art. Lapis is much more rare and costly. Synthetic blue pigments were, historically, difficult to produce as well. Cobalt and Prussian Blue had to be imported.