|Eastern Chou Dynasty, 700 to 500 B.C.|
Pair of dragon plaques, brown jade streaked with white. This pair was part of a large pectoral assembly of a type known from burials. Suspended with many other elements these pectorals could extend for many feet, although these may have been worn just on their own, or with just a few other elements. Found together, they are mirror images of each other and depict cutout dragon forms in profile, with indeterminate limbs, the front one of which seems to end in a bird head. The body is covered with raised bumps which have spiral swirls incised on them.
There is much speculation about what this common decorative surface treatment meant, some have suggested sprouting millet, others a visual reference to clouds; I am wondering if they may not represent tufts of wool or fur, as if these dragons were covered with fur. Whatever they represent the effect is to animate the surface, and must have demanded enormous amounts of time to reserve the high points and carve down and polish the background.
Both sides of the plaques are given equal treatment resulting in a three dimensional object about an 1/8th of an inch or more accurately nearly half a centimeter thick.
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