Arched Dragon Pendant
Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period (474-221 B.C.E.)
2.5 x 8.5 x .25 inches
Pendants such as this fine arched dragon complemented an entire set of pendants and beads whose length covered the deceased’s body from the shoulders to the knees. The pendant, hung horizontally on a silken cord, accompanied the many other pieces of carved jade. The dragon, a favorite subject for pendants during the Zhou dynasty, was a motif perhaps brought into the culture by way of people of the Mongolian steppes. The dragon was said to assist human souls in their journey to the netherworld. Like any artifact of jade, this pendant was created with great difficulty. A piece of jade was laboriously cut into a flat slab, the dragon silhouette carefully transferred, and then the form given shape over many, many hours of hand-drilling and carving.
Art Institute of Chicago, object 1950.645
Smithsonian, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, object S1987.485
Willets, pp. 42-46