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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Korean
Creator Dates/Places: Korea
Creator Name-CRT: Korea
Title: Rafter finial in the shape of a dragon head and wind chime
View: Principal view
Creation Start Date: 1000
Creation End Date: 1099
Creation Date: Late Unified Silla (668?935)?early Koryô dynasty (918?1392) , 10th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Materials and Techniques: Gilt Bronze
Dimensions: Finial: L. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm), Chime: H. 15 1/4 in. (38.7 cm)
This expertly cast, lavishly gilt bronze finial in the shape of a dragon's head and the accompanying bell are among the finest pieces of metalwork of the late Unified Silla and early Koryô dynasties, when Korean art had digested Chinese influence and developed a mature native style characterized by refinement and sumptuousness. The imposing dragon's head originally graced one of the corner rafters of a Buddhist temple or a royal hall. The bell, which functioned as a wind chime, would have been suspended from the iron loop at the dragon's mouth by an S-shaped iron hook, which is now corroded but intact. In contrast to larger bells, which were sounded by striking the surface with a wooden mallet or stake, this small bell had a metal-plate clapper (now lost) attached to its interior.
An auspicious symbol as well as a decorative motif, the dragon is one of the most popular images in Korean art and culture. It is viewed as a guardian figure that protects humans and wards off evil spirits. The dramatic features of this example?large staring eyes, flaring nostrils, wide-open mouth with protruding sharp fangs, and single horn?convey a fierceness and invincibility in keeping with such apotropaic functions. The theme of protectiveness is echoed in the decoration on the bell, which features a svastika, a Buddhist symbol of safety and peace.
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York
ID Number: 1999.263ab
Credit Line: Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 1999 Benefit Fund, and The Rosenkranz Foundation Inc. Gift, 1999
Copyright: Copyright ? 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved.
AMICA ID: MMA_.1999.263ab
AMICA Library Year: 2002
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright (c) 2002 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All Rights Reserved
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