AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' TERMINAL Han Dynasty (2)

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Lot 77
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' TERMINAL
Han Dynasty

Sold for HK$ 3,502,500 (US$ 450,680) inc. premium
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' TERMINAL
Han Dynasty
The L-shaped ferocious dragon finely cast with its head raised and snouted mouth open to reveals fangs and teeth, with bulbous eyes and heavy lids, its head set with a single large hallow horn to form a receptacle, further set with two twisted horns between the pointed ears, the long slender up-stretched neck with a thick collar and two curls descending down the back, the dragon incised with details semi-crouched with clawed feet placed either side of the narrow chest, all terminating with a rectangular flange, the gilt with an attractive reddish-gold tone with encrustation, stand.
36cm (14 1/8in) high, 4.4kg weight. (2).

Footnotes

  • 漢 銅鎏金雲虡紋龍型䡇飾

    Provenance:
    Eskenazi Ltd., London
    A distinguished British private collection, acquired from the above in 2003

    來源:
    倫敦古董商埃斯肯納齊
    英國顯赫私人收藏,2003年購於上者

    Remarkable for its striking form and powerful dynamism, the present lot is a testimony to the ultimate creativity of the ancient artisans who ingeniously transformed an ornamental object into a form of sculptural art. The impressive size, elongated neck, raised high, finely sculpted head and incised details lend this piece a luxurious and rich countenance unrivalled by other dragon-form ornaments of smaller size from the Han dynasty.

    The present lot is exceedingly rare in terms of its presentation and size. The present lot was most probably the ornamental terminal which was placed at the end of the curved shaft, known as yue 䡇 or zhou 輈 on a chariot during the Han dynasty. The depiction of similar dragon-form terminals can be found on several decorated bricks excavated from the Eastern Han dynasty tomb dated to 171 AD in Suxian, Anhui Province, illustrated in zhongguo hua Xiang shi quan ji, (The Complete Works of Portrait Bricks in China), Jinan, 2000, vol.4, pp.122-123. Compare three closely related but much smaller gilt-bronze dragon-head terminals: the first, dated Western Han dynasty, 24.5cm long, is illustrated by G.Eskenazi, A dealer's hand: The Chinese Art World Through The Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi, London, 2012, pl.58, p.198; the second, a gilt-bronze dragon terminal, Han dynasty, 14.6cm long, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 1992.165.25); and the third related example, 14.3cm long, dated Eastern Han dynasty to Six Dynasties period, from the Anthony Hardy Collection, is illustrated in Ancient Chinese and Ordos Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1990, no.117, and was later sold at Christie's New York, 16 September 2010, lot 917.

    The use of bronze terminals in forms of figures and animals to decorate the curved shaft of a chariot appeared during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, and such tradition appeared to continue during the Qin and Han dynasties. For earlier examples, see a Shang dynasty dragon-head terminal excavated in Anyang, illustrated by Sun Ji, zaichi zaiqu: zhongguo gudai chema wenhua, Shanghai, 2016, p.62, fig.2-17-1; see also a bronze tiger-form terminal, excavated in Fangshan, Beijing, illustrated in zhongguo chutu qingtong quanji, Beijing, 1956, p.118; Compare another gilt-bronze and silver-inlaid dragon terminal, Warring States period, 22.5cm long, excavated in Huaiyang, Henan Province, illustrated in Wenwu, Beijing, 1984, issue 11, p.84.

    While chariots continued to serve as command posts for royal members or officers during the Han dynasty, the form of the bronze terminals used to decorate the shafts indicated different royal status. According to the Han dynasty literature Yu fu zhi (Record of the Proper Carriage and Attire), the zhou shaft of a chariot carrying the empress or the emperor is decorated with gilt and incised patterns of clouds, while chariots carrying princes are decorated with red wheels, a green parasol and a paint-decorated zhou shaft. The present lot showing the finely-incised cloud pattern around the body of the dragon hence was very likely a chariot fitting for the emperor.

    䡇作半身龍形,龍鼻上翻且內捲,口大張露出四顆獠牙,目如銅鈴,雙角後伏,頭頂出第三角,中空,或插鳥羽裝飾,龍細頸,上戴頸套,套下生一背羽,兩足前踞,前胸脅下生卷羽,龍身表面陰刻雲虡紋,鎏金厚重華麗。龍身之後有方形空心榫口,為固定之用。

    此件龍型飾件或為漢代車輈頂端,即䡇之裝飾。安徽宿縣出土之東漢建寧四年(171年)畫像石有龍首䡇飾的形象,其形象與本件頗似,見《中國畫像石全集》,濟南,2000年,頁122及123。參考三例類似但尺寸較小的龍首䡇飾:一件西漢銅鎏金龍首䡇飾(24.5釐米長)由倫敦埃斯卡納齊售出,惟單角,見朱塞佩·埃斯卡納齊著,《中國藝術品經眼錄:埃斯卡納齊的回憶》,倫敦,2012年,圖版58,頁198;第二件漢鎏金銅龍頭飾(14.6釐米長)現藏於紐約大都會博物館(博物館編號1992.165.25);第三例見思源堂舊藏東漢至六朝銅鎏金龍頭飾,著錄於《青銅聚英: 中國古代與鄂爾多斯青銅器》,香港,1990年,編號117,後於紐約佳士得售出,2010年9月16日,拍品編號917。

    先秦以來的車廂底部橫向裝軸,縱向為輈,輈、轅後世多不細分,然先秦馬車稱輈,牛車方稱轅;雙轅馬車出現後,這一分別逐漸消失。輈從車廂底部前段探出,先平後揚,平者稱軓,揚者稱頸,頸部末端即為䡇,位於兩馬之間。商代以來便在䡇處包銅,漸而包銅變成各種形象的裝飾,以獸形為主。商代以降車䡇便多以獸首為飾,其中又以龍首為最高等級者。河南安陽小屯出土一件龍形䡇飾,可窺此類龍形䡇飾的早期面貌,見孫機著,《載馳載驅──中國古代車馬文化》,上海,2016年,圖2-17-1,頁62。西周之車䡇多呈喇叭形,頂有圓當,然而亦有獸首者,如北京房山出土一件西周虎首䡇飾,見《中國出土青銅器全集》,卷1,北京,2018年,圖版63,頁58。至春秋戰國時期,車䡇則多做獸首,參考河南輝縣出土一件戰國獸首銅䡇,似龍馬形,見中國社會科學院考古研究所,《輝縣發掘報告》,北京,1956年,頁118;同地又出土另一件錯金銀獸首䡇,見《中國出土青銅器全集》,卷10,圖版450,頁423;河南淮陽出土一件戰國錯金銀龍首轅首,轅輈不分,此物即輈首,也就是車䡇,長22.5釐米,寬12.2釐米,已有本件拍品之雛形,見《河南淮陽馬鞍塚楚墓發掘簡報》,《文物》,北京,1984年,圖版1-3。

    由此可見,先秦獸首車䡇形制之流變一脈相承,惟動物形象取決於時代風格。漢代車儀制度嚴謹,車馬的裝飾與使用者的地位息息相關,等級差別不可僭越,因而以龍為飾的器物必定屬於當時貴族。《後漢書》之《輿服志》規定「諸車之文」:「 天子......乘輿、金根、安車、立車,輪皆朱班重牙,貳轂兩轄,金薄繆龍,為輿倚較,文虎伏軾,龍首銜軛,左右吉陽筩,鸞雀立衡,<木虡>文畫輈,羽蓋華蚤......」漢代皇帝所用車馬器尚無實物可見,然而諸侯以降之車馬實物時有出土,與文獻所載出入不大。河北省博物館藏西漢中山靖王出土一件鎏金龍首䡇與本件拍品已經頗似,所不同處在於此件銅䡇口部中空,銎管從中穿過以連接車衡,見《中國青銅器全集·秦漢》,北京,1998年,圖版152,頁155。東漢車䡇又多不見銎管,東漢中山慕王墓出土一對鎏金龍首䡇飾,和本件幾乎風格一致,龍鼻微翹,龍角細長後伏,整體修長停勻,惟該對龍首䡇飾尺寸不明,乃東漢流行的雙轅馬車之遺物,見定縣博物館撰,《河北定縣43號漢墓發掘簡報》,載於《文物》,北京,1973年,11期,頁84。

    漢代車馬除了以車䡇裝飾區分等級,車轅(輈)上面所飾紋樣亦是區分等級的線索。漢代流行雲虡紋,卻僅限於貴族使用。所謂雲虡紋,即各種仙人靈獸穿梭雲氣之間的圖案。《輿服志》所載天子之乘輿、金根、安車、立車皆「<木虡>文畫輈」,<木虡>同虡,即指天子車架上的雲虡紋裝飾。所謂「畫輈」,推測所繪圖案與輈首——也就是䡇飾形象為一整體,所以本件龍形䡇飾和車輈可能組成一條完整的龍形,車軸所繪亦當是䡇飾所見的雲虡紋。《輿服志》又載:「太皇太后、皇太后法駕,皆御金根......雲<木虡>文畫輈......皇太子、皇子皆安車,朱班輪,青蓋,金華蚤,黑<木虡>文,畫轓文輈」。諸侯王以降則不見以雲虡紋為飾的記載,由此推測,此件雲虡紋龍首䡇飾至少是諸侯王一級所用車馬之飾物。
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AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' TERMINAL Han Dynasty (2)
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' TERMINAL Han Dynasty (2)
AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE LARGE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' TERMINAL Han Dynasty (2)
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