Scabbard fitting with kneeling human figures

Historical period(s)
Early Western Zhou dynasty, 10th century BCE
H x W x D: 19.3 x 10.3 x 2 cm (7 5/8 x 4 1/16 x 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Therese and Erwin Harris in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jewelry and Ornament, Metalwork

Ornament: scabbard

China, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE)

To 1994
The Estate of Blanchette Rockefeller, to 1994 [1]

From 1994 to 1998
Therese and Erwin Harris, Coconut Grove, FL, purchased at sale of the Blanchette Rockefeller Estate, Christie's, New York, June 2, 1994, lot no. 42 [2]

From 1998
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Therese and Erwin Harris in 1998


[1] According to Curatorial Notes 4, Jenny F. So, March 3, 1998, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Estate of Blanchette Rockefeller
Therese and Erwin Harris


This ornament for the front of a scabbard is distinguished by flowing, interlacing ribbons that terminate in budlike forms on the upper half of its U-shaped frame. Pairs of small holes along the frame's edge would have allowed the ornament to be attached to its leather or wooden sheath.

An extraordinary decorative element on this scabbard ornament--two kneeling human figures whose profile heads rise prominently above the top of the ornament--points further to its ties with ancient foreigners on China's borders. Each head shows distinctly non-Chinese features, such as a large, almond-shaped eye, broad nose, thick lips, and wavy hair gathered into a bun at the back.

Published References
  • Sherman Lee. Masterpieces of Asian Art in American Collections: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York. cat. 31.
  • Jenny F. So, Emma C. Bunker. Traders and Raiders on China's Northern Frontier. Exh. cat. Seattle, 1995. cat. 41.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 220-221.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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