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Garment Hook

A work made of bronze inlaid with gold and silver and inset with jade.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of bronze inlaid with gold and silver and inset with jade.


Eastern Zhou dynasty (770–221 B.C.)



About this artwork

The buttonlike knob on the back of this small garment hook served to fasten a belt or robe. A dragon of jade curls sinuously within its bronze mount—a composite creature combining a bull’s head and a serpentine body terminating in a fishlike tail curled over one horn. The dragon’s finely incised curls are echoed in a complex pattern of gold and silver embellishing the mount. Thin strands of these malleable metals, applied individually or compacted together into thicker ribbons, were pressed into grooves in the bronze, then ground flush with the surface and polished to a high luster. This combination of descriptive and abstract patterns—facial features, scales, volutes, and spirals—is a masterwork of metallic inlay.

The jade dragon is datable about three hundred years earlier than the inlaid bronze garment hook in which it was carefully set. The exquisite “recycling” of ancient jades demonstrates their value to those who inherited or discovered such pieces and then custom-designed new contexts for their use.


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Arts of Asia


Garment Hook


China (Artist's nationality)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

310 BCE–90 BCE


Bronze inlaid with gold and silver and inset with jade


8.3 × 8.3 × 2 cm (3 1/4 × 3 1/4 × 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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