Qin dynasty (221-206 BC)
Length 19 cm, Width 1.5 cm
Excavated at Qin tomb No. 3, Guanzhuang Beigang, Biyang, Henan Province, 1978
The overall shape of this belt hook is hemispherical, with a dragon head at either end, and interlocking cloud patterns decorating the body of the hook. There is also a small circular knob protruding from its reverse side. The hook is composed of ten segments, and a flat strip of iron runs through the centre of the hook to reinforce it. The hook can also be dismantled into its constituent segments, which are between one and four centimetres long.
Belt hooks were used in ancient China to fasten leather waist belts, and were made from a wide variety of materials including gold, silver, jade, bronze, iron and wood. Jade was most popular during the Spring and Autumn and War States periods and the Qin and Han dynasties. The fine carving, beautiful decoration and special design of this bet hook make it an extremely rare find. As it was excavated from a Qin tomb, we can assume from its reliable dating that it conforms to the conventions of jade ware production for this period.