Description: Warring States, 475-221 BC. A gilt bronze belt hook with arching body decorated at the foot with two dragon heads with collars and rosettes to the necks; along the body the heads of an owl, dragon and a fox; neck with three lobed collar and arching head of a dragon; scrolled circles to the body; to the underside a raised boss decorated with scrolled pelta pattern. See, Lawton, T. Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480-222 B.C, Washington, 1982. 273 grams, 22cm (8 3/4"). Property of a London collector; by inheritance from his grandfather; acquired during travels in the Far East in the 1920s. For a period of two hundred and fifty years the Zhou dynasty was divided among eight states who were at constant war with one another to gain control. The phenomenon of intensive warfare, based on mass formations of infantry rather than the traditional chariots, was one major trend which led to the creation of strong central bureaucracies in each of the major states. Chinese polity developed a bias towards centralization and unity, which can be traced from this period. On the one hand, it was a time of rivalry between competing states. On the other, as states consolidated their rule, they annexed smaller dukedoms. Confucius had already established unity as an ideal, and the end of this period saw the ascendancy of the Qin dynasty and China as a single imperial state. The rise of the aristocratic feudal families in this period saw an increase in the use of elaborate court ceremonial that required clothing and accessories as a means of displaying wealth, power and the concept of established stability. As such the ruling families presented themselves as representing the mandate of heaven, which they believed legitimized their rule and the right to conquer their neighbours with whom they were at constant war.
Condition Report: Very fine condition.
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