Pair of fittings in the form of tigers

artist unknownAround 850-900 BCE

 Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Washington, DC, United States

These two large animal-shaped bronzes with deep cavities are extremely heavy and must have been made as supports for an unknown purpose, perhaps to raise a group of musical instruments or a special piece of furniture. Whatever their intended function, they were obviously inspired by real tigers. Their low-slung bodies are elongated and posses powerful legs and a long, coiled tail. Their blocky, ferocious heads have erect ears and dots that represent whisker follicles. The flanks, lower legs, and tails are covered with stripes clearly meant to evoke the patterns on the live animal. On second look, however, the stiff forms are boxy and abstract, hovering between natural and decorative impulses. Signaling an early phase in Chinese representational sculpture, the three-dimensional images have been approached as an assemblage of flat views of sides, front, back, and top. According to a note received when these objects were acquired in 1935, they were unearthed in 1923 at Baoji in Shaanxi province in the hereditary homeland of the Zhou dynasty rulers.


  • Title: Pair of fittings in the form of tigers
  • Creator: artist unknown
  • Date Created: Around 850-900 BCE
  • Physical Dimensions: w159 x h253 mm
  • Type: Metalwork
  • Medium: Bronze
  • Style: China, Shaanxi province, Baoji, Middle Western Zhou dynasty.

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