4th-century gilt bronze beast-shaped water dropper

Updated: Mar 27, 2023 Print
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Side view of the bronze beast-shaped inkstone water dropper [Photo/Official WeChat account of the Nanjing Municipal Museum]

This gilt bronze inkstone water dropper, dating back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), is carved in the shape of a crouching beast holding an oval cup in its mouth. A cylindrical tube on the beast’s back leads to its hollow belly that serves to hold water. The beast is exquisitely carved and well designed, with its ears standing straight up, two horns drooping behind, its back and underside adorned with feathers, and its long tail hanging down. The four bending limbs are strong and powerful, with five claws grasping at the ground.

Some experts hold a different opinion on the purpose of this object, believing it to be an oil lamp, based on a 12th-century monograph on historical object studies.

This item is part of the permanent collection of the Nanjing Municipal Museum.

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