Rafter finial in the shape of a dragon’s head and wind chime


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 233

This finial in the shape of a dragon’s head would originally have been attached to a corner rafter of a royal hall or a Buddhist temple building (see, for example, the photograph to the right of a wood model pagoda from the Goryeo dynasty).

The beast’s bulging eyes, flaring nostrils, and elaborate scales convey the fierceness and invincibility of this auspicious creature. The bell, which functioned as a wind chime, once had a metal-plate clapper inside and would have been suspended by a hook from the loop at the mouth of the dragon. The decorative panels on the lower halves of both faces of the bell feature a swastika (an ancient symbol associated with the Buddha) within a lotus-flower platform. The only other comparable example to this pair is in the collection of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul.

Rafter finial in the shape of a dragon’s head and wind chime, Gilt bronze, Korea

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