A rare and important 15th C. Chinese Ming Dynasty chiseled and gilded iron fitting. This piece would have likely formed part of a belt belonging to a high ranking warrior or prince. It is also possible that it was produced for sale to Tibet as other extant Ming, and earlier, period Chinese chiseled and gilded iron workmanshipis thought to have been.
The dating of this piece can be attributed to a number of 15th C. Ming dynasty iron artifactswith certain similar features, specifically identified by the distinct damascenedscrollwork border that is found on our example.
The Royal Armories, Leeds, UK has a famous and important sword with a monster head mask crossguard chiseled in iron and damascened in gold. The border of the scabbard of that sword has an idential scrollwork pattern to that found on this fitting.
The British Museum has two Yongle period artifacts, a sceptre or khatvanga, with identical scrollwork in gold and silver. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has an even earlier group of Imperial presentation artifacts, including a ritual axe with similar spiral scroll decoration, dating to the period of the Emperor Hongwu (1368-1398), and a ritual chopper, parasu, from the same period.
The scrollwork pattern is also found on a rare Chinese made helmet, of lamellar consturction, found in the Royal Armories, with identical scrollwork found on the brim.
Further the delicate decoration showig two cranes in flight among twisted scrolled vegetal scrollwork is indicative of an early dating for this piece.
An important object.
3 1/2 in length, and 1 7/16 in width.
Reference: Royal Armories Yearbook, Volume 1, 1996