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Gallery Text

In the Zhou dynasty the number of jades in burial sites increased significantly, as multiple plaques and beads were sewn or strung together and draped over the face and body of the deceased. Jades in the forms of figures and animals became increasingly realistic, and surface patterns became more complex and highly decorative.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Jade Configuration of Dragon, Bird, and Snake
Ritual Implements
Work Type
4th-3rd century BCE
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Zhou dynasty, Warring States period, 475-221 BCE
Level 1, Room 1740, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age
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Physical Descriptions
Highly polished, translucent brown and honey-colored nephrite
H. 13 x W. 7.8 x Thickness 0.5 cm (5 1/8 x 3 1/16 x 3/16 in.)
Weight 62 g
Inscriptions and Marks
  • (not assigned): incised along edge: 中廿廿三 (middle 43)
Grenville L. Winthrop, New York (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Published Text
Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber
Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975)

Catalogue entry no. 427 by Max Loehr:

427 Configuration of Dragon, Bird, and Snake
Highly polished, translucent, brown and honey-colored jade. The incised designs are nearly the same on each side. The dragon’s head is distinguished from the preceding types by the axe-shaped silhouette of the lower jaw. There are no appendages except a long foot and claw in front—if these geometric and ornamental shapes may be described in organic terms. The dragon’s body is covered with the smooth surface and sparingly engraved patterns on the bird figure at the end. The bird is provided with a crest, strong beak, short, straight wings, and a curved tail that juts out over the dragon’s body. He holds a curled snake in his beak. Two perforations at the bottom center. On the edge below these perforations is an incised inscription of three characters: “middle, forty-three.” Late Eastern Chou.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Publication History

Max Loehr and Louisa G. Fitzgerald Huber, Ancient Chinese Jades from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975), cat. no. 427, p. 293

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), no. 15, pp. 22-23

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), pp. 14-15

Exhibition History

S427: Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/20/1985 - 04/30/2008

Re-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 06/01/2013

32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/01/2014 - 01/01/9999

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu