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Basin with Five-clawed Dragons

Artist/maker unknown, Chinese

Made in China, Asia

Xuande Period (1426-1435)

Early 15th century

Gold with engraved decoration of five-clawed dragons; semiprecious stones

2 13/16 x 10 3/16 inches (7.1 x 25.9 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 236, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds, 1950

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During periods of the Ming dynasty, laws restricted the use of gold to only the imperial family. This basin—which has a matching ewer (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-118-1) similarly engraved with dragons and decorated with gems—was likely produced for the court. The unusual technique of insetting gems into gold suggests the influence of Tibetan metalwork.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.