A pair of gilt and silvered bronze tiger’s-head terminals

戰國至西漢   銅鎏金銀虎首飾件一對

The heads are very finely cast, acting as the terminals to unusual L-shaped bars. Each head is broad, with the suggestion of a short mane extending up to the alert pointed ears. The spherical orbs of the large, wide-open eyes gaze from beneath arched brows, flanking the wide snout. Each holds the mouth slightly open, revealing the teeth. A rich layer of gilding is applied over each head apart from on the eyes, which are silvered. The bar-fittings to which they are attached are not gilded, showing the brown metal with some malachite encrustation.

J.J. Lally & Co. Oriental Art, New York, 1994
Jean-Yves Ollivier Collection
Bonhams London, “The Ollivier Collection of Early Chinese Art”, 8th November 2018, lot 3

The use of gold and silver applied to bronze figures of animals was increasingly popular from the Warring States period onwards. Such figures often formed part of the lavish embellishment of royal or noble chariots or pieces of furniture. The L-shaped bars to which the present heads form the terminals are very rare, but consistent with this type of use.

A tiger head dated to the late Zhou dynasty was exhibited in the Venice 
exhibition of 1954 and illustrated in the catalogue, no. 91, p. 40 where it is noted that it was loaned from the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne. It is illustrated in full colour in Museum Für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln, p. 15.

Another, larger, Zhou dynasty tiger head terminal is illustrated in the catalogue of the collection of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, no. 24.

Dimensions: Widths: 4.6 cm, 1¾ inches and 5 cm, 2 inches

Date: Warring States to Western Han dynasty, 3rd/2nd century BC

Stock No. 2275

Price: On Request