Belt Slide with a Falcon Attacking a Goose

Period: Jin (1115–1234)–Yuan (1271–1368) dynasty

Date: 12th–14th century

Culture: China

Medium: Jade (nephrite)

Dimensions: 1 7/8 × 2 5/8 × 1/2 in. (4.8 × 6.7 × 1.3 cm)

Classification: Jade

Credit Line: Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.483


Belts composed of metal pieces attached to leather or fabric were first introduced to China from Central Asia in the Western Jin period (265–317 A.D.). During the Tang dynasty, jade belt plaques of this type were produced in large numbers. From the Tang to the Ming dynasty, such jade belts were a sign of status worn by members of the imperial family and high-ranking individuals. The slide with a loop was used to suspend personal accessories from a belt.

The piece is made from translucent white nephrite that has the unctuous texture that prompted the stone's frequent comparison to "mutton fat" in Chinese writings on the properties of jade. The borders are a series of pearl-like shapes. A flying goose with a lotus in its beak pursued by a small falcon is shown in the openwork center. This motif has been identified as a symbol for the goose, or swan, hunt conducted as a spring rite by the Jurchen, a forest people from Manchuria who controlled parts of northern China as the Jin dynasty.