Lot 212
  • 212

AN EXCEEDINGLY RARE GOLD AND SILVER-INLAID FITTINGWARRING STATES PERIOD - HAN DYNASTY |

Estimate
30,000 - 50,000 USD
Sold
37,500 USD
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Description

cast with a cylindrical axis connecting a handle and a domed cover set with two extended L-shaped brackets and surmounted by a short cylindrical top, finely inlaid in gold and silver with a stylized scroll design, the top slotted for a sliding rectangular peg with a small circular loop extending to the axis

Provenance

C.T. Loo, New York, 31st October 1957.
Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).

Catalogue Note

The identification of the function of the present lot is fundamentally challenging without access to its place of discovery and full knowledge of its mechanism. Speculation, however, based on archeological findings, suggests that the present fitting may have be a component for the door lock on the carriage of a chariot. See a bronze carriage door lock for a chariot, modeled with a similar flat handle attached to a locking mechanism, discovered from the tomb of the Prince of Qi of the Western Han dynasty, illustrated in Zibo Museum, 'Xihan Qiwangmu suizangqiwukeng [The Funerary Pits round the Princely Tomb of Qi Kingdom of the Western Han Dynasty]', Kaogu xuebao/Acta Archaeologica Sinica, vol. 2, Beijing, 1985, pl. 20, fig. 4, where the author notes the knob handle on one end is a switch that can be turned, p. 248. 

See also a parcel-gilt bronze door handle, connected to a lock bar through a square-sectioned axis, excavated near the end of the carriage remnants from the tomb of Liu Sheng, Prince of Zhongshan of the Western Han dynasty, in Mancheng, Hebei province, illustrated in Institute of Archaeology, CASS, ed., Mancheng Hanmu fajue baogao [Archaeological report of the Han tombs in Mancheng], vol. 2, Beijing, 1980, pl. 225, fig. 3. According to the archeological report, this handle was probably installed on the door of the carriage. Once the door is closed, the weight of the handle would pull itself downward, subsequently turning the lock bar horizontally to lock the door, see ibid., vol. 1, p. 324.  

The present fitting is adorned elaborately in gold and silver inlay with a stylized scrolling design, which can be compared to a parcel-gilt silver-inlaid bronze hu, decorated with the same design around the body, attributed to the Warring States period, included in the exhibition Masterpieces of Chinese Arts from the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, 1989, cat. no. 13.
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