Lot 142. A bronze 'tiger' ferrule, Eastern Zhou dynasty, Warring States period (475-221 BC); 9.2 cm. Lot sold: 2,268,000 HKD (Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022
modelled as a ferocious feline with open jaws, together with its front legs tightly grasping the robe-twist border, the muscular haunches terminating in sharp-clawed paws, the thick tail slightly coiling at the end, the body decorated overall with well-defined stripes enhanced by C-scrolls, the underside further adorned with an animal bovine mask beneath its front legs and a small deer between the hind paws.
Provenance: Peter Lai Antiques Ltd, Hong Kong, 14th August 1992.
Exhibited: British Museum, London, on loan, 1992-2013.
Note: The present piece, similar to other ferrules of the period, were made to cap the foot of ceremonial poles or weapons, such as spears; it not only protects the shaft but also highlights the superiority of its owner. These ferrules appear to have been conceived individually, showcasing the borderless creativity of the Zhou dynasty artisans.
A closely related ferrule of the same design is published in Hayashi Minao, In shu jidai seidoki no kenkyu [Conspectus of Yin and Zhou bronzes], vol. 3, 1989, p. 326, top right. See also a bronze ferrule modelled as a crouching tiger in the British Museum, London, accession no. 1932,1014.13; and a silver-inlaid bronze example, included in Jessica Rawson and Emma C. Bunker, Ancient Chinese and Ordos Bronzes, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1990, cat. no. 88.
Sotheby's. HOTUNG The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung: Part 1, Hong Kong, 9 October 2022