Sword Guard in the Form of Confronted Dragons

Period: Timurid period (1370–1507)

Date: 14th–early 15th century

Culture: Central Asia

Medium: Nephrite; carved

Dimensions: H. 2 in. (5.1 cm); W. 4 in. (10.2 cm); D. 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm)

Classification: Jade

Credit Line: Gift of Heber R. Bishop, 1902

Accession Number: 02.18.765


Timurid royalty admired the qualities of nephrite (jade). The carved pieces that survive from the period include engraved rings and at least two dragon-handled white jade jugs. Also, at least two jade dragon-headed sword guards are known, including this example, created from the finest and rarest type of nephrite—black jade. Known for its hardness, jade is extremely difficult to carve, underscoring the exceptional quality of this highly detailed carving of confronted dragon heads with protruding tongues.