An agate scabbard slide (zhi)

The slide is of rectangular form with a slightly curved upper surface flanked by raised ridges and with flat sides. The ends of the slide have hooked ‘eaves’ (zhiyan 璏檐)and the underside has an elongated rectangular aperture (qiong 銎). The stone is well polished with concentric banding in tones of milky white, grey and brown. 

Scabbard slides of this construction were part of the standard 
fittings of a sword scabbard from the Warring States period through to the early post- Han period, and enabled the scabbard to be slung from the waist by means of cords or a strap passing through the aperture on the reverse. More typically of jade, slides made of agate, like the present fine example, grew in popularity from the Western Han period. For a red and white agate scabbard slide dated to the Han dynasty, excavated in 2002 from a tomb in the Haizhou area of Lianyungang, see the example in the Lianyungang City Museum.

There is a difference of opinion concerning the correct pronunciation of the character meaning ‘scabbard slide’, some preferring ‘wei’, but the earliest sources attest ‘zhi’, as given here. It seems that the alternative version only appeared in the Song dynasty.

Dimensions: Length: 6.6 cm, 2 ⅝ inches

Date: Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 9)

Stock No. 37

Price: On Request