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HOME : Chinese Art : Masterpieces of Chinese Art : Ordos Bronze Plaque
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Ordos Bronze Plaque - LO.616
Origin: Northern China
Circa: 500 BC to 200 AD
Dimensions: 3.25" (8.3cm) high x 5.4" (13.7cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Bronze

Location: Great Britain
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The Ordos culture refers to groups of nomadic peoples that inhabited the southern Mongolian Plateau as early as the Shang Dynasty. Though they lived along the western and northern perimeters of the main Han Dynasty settlements, they retained a distinctive culture more alligned with the Scythian peoples of the Steppes than their Chinese neighbors. They are known primarily through their metalwork. Many of the belt plaques, horse gear, and weapons that have been found depict scenes of animals in combat. Such themes are linked to the ancient Near Eastern tradition. During the Han Dynasty, the Chinese formulated peace treaties with the Xiongnu peoples who were the dominent force of the Ordos region at this time. Xiongnu tombs have been excavated in Mongolia that contained Chinese luxury goods such as silk and bronze mirrors next to their own bronze works. This bronze belt plaque is a perfect example of the Ordus style. A scene depicting a pair of animals in combat decorates the front. A mythological beast that may well be a dragon attacks what appears to be a ram, biting it on the neck. It is likely that this work was originally gilt, though the surface now has a lovely patina that testifies to its age. - (LO.616)


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