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Jadeite Belt Hook with Chi-Dragon Design

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Dimensions: Width: 9.4 cm; length: 1.3 cm

A common theme of imperial China's belt hooks is the Azure Dragon teaching its offspring; the body of the hook is shaped as a large dragon turning its head and gaze at a small dragon. As the adult coaches the youngling to fly, the parent's high expectations are expressed. This hook retains the overall structure of the early theme. However, the adult dragon has been changed into a phoenix while the young dragon is depicted as a coiled chi-dragon (a young hornless dragon), losing the motif's original meaning. The jade material for this ornament comprises different colors. With an ingenious use of the original colors (a technique known as qiaose), the artisan took advantage of natural formation of the jade and transformed it into aspects of the intended subject. The original piece of jade was fashioned into a phoenix with a light green head and white body accompanied by a coiled chi-dragon in a deeper shade of green. Since the hook is attached to a base, it could therefore be used as an accessory or as a desk ornament.

Website version edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying

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