Historical period(s)
Warring States period, Late Eastern Zhou dynasty, 5th-4th century BCE
Bronze with silver and gold inlay
H x W: 4 x 6.1 cm (1 9/16 x 2 3/8 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


bird, China, Eastern Zhou dynasty (770 - 221 BCE), Warring States period (475 - 221 BCE)
Provenance research underway.

Three narrow rings extend outward horizontally from the upper sections of the tubular finial. Simple gold and silver inlay designs consisting of 4 vertical lines, ornament the flat outer edges of the rings. A broad inlay gold band appears on the top of the pieces, encircling the apertures. The lower portions of the finial is inlaid with addorsed gold birds enclosed within silver volutes. Subtle variations in these inlay decorations, especially in the depiction of the birds, reflect the artist's freedom of invention.  Presumably, the finial was a fitting on a ceremonial chariot, and the small square opening on the side was used to secure the piece to a wooden shaft.

A bronze chariot fitting of similar shape and inlaid with gold and silver was found in tomb 1 at Ku-wei-ts'un Hui Hsien, Honan Province. It has only two horizontal rings, while the Freer finial has three. The editors of the archaeological report mention that bronze caps shaped like axle caps were found on the tops of the two rear corner posts of a chariot in tomb 131 at Liu-li-ko and conclude that the bronze fitting inlaid with gold and silver found in tomb 1 at Ku-wei-ts'un probably served the same function.

Related bronze fittings are also said to have been found at Chin-ts'un, near Loyang, Honan Province.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton. Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480-222 B.C. Washington, 1982-1983. cat. 18, p. 56.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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