Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Fly Whisk

Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
15th century
Ivory with tin beads and palm-leaf fibers
Overall with handle and whisk: W. 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm); L. 35 in. (88.9 cm) Ivory handle: W. 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm); L. 10 3/8 in. (26.4 cm) Storage Box: 2 7/8 x 41 3/8 x 6 in. (7.3 x 105.1 x 15.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Vincent Astor Foundation Gift, 2004
Accession Number:
Not on view
An instrument of literati dandyism in Chinese culture, the fly whisk is often depicted in early paintings and decorative arts, however, few actual examples are preserved. The hexagonal, tinted ivory handle of this piece is decorated with two rows of lotus petals. The macramé ferrule is edged with copper wire and has a raised design of an attenuated dragon chasing a tin pearl.
[ James Freeman , Bangkok, TH, until 2004; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Defining Yongle, Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China," April 1, 2005–July 10, 2005.

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