seated bird with head turned toward tail and rested on back; long, curling feathers on wings and tail; details etched into surface; polished gold color with some blue, green and red (azurite, malachite and cuprite) encrustations

Phoenix weight, one of a pair, 2nd century BCE

Unknown artist, expand_more

Gilt bronzeexpand_more

Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  2001.76.1

Each of these bronze weights is cast in the form of a roosting phoenix with its head turned and resting on its back. Both birds are inscribed with fine lineation describing the plumage and other minute features, and they are completely gilded. The underside of each is filled with a lead amalgam for added weight.

Pairs of objects such as these, but most often sets of four, have been retrieved from aristocratic Han tombs suggesting that they were meant to be used as weights possibly for the floor mats commonly used for seating at that time or to hold burial shrouds in place. The decorative use of stone or metal inlay as well as the gilding seen here can be found on contemporary bronze vessels and personal ornaments conveying a sense of the luxury and wealth associated with Han society.

Details
Title
Phoenix weight, one of a pair
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2001.76.1
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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seated bird with head turned toward tail and rested on back; long, curling feathers on wings and tail; details etched into surface; polished gold color with some blue, green and red (azurite, malachite and cuprite) encrustations