One of a pair of tigers, possibly the base supports for a bell stand


Historical period(s)
Middle Western Zhou dynasty, ca. 950-850 BCE
H x W x D: 25.1 x 15.9 x 75.1 cm (9 7/8 x 6 1/4 x 29 9/16 in)
China, Shaanxi province, Baoji
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 25: RESOUND: Bells of Ancient China
Metalwork, Vessel


casting, China, tiger, Western Zhou dynasty (ca. 1050 - 771 BCE), WWII-era provenance

To 1935
Tonying and Company, New York. [1]

From 1935
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Tonying and Company, New York. [2]


[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record. See also Curatorial Remark 9 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Tonying and Company


Although the purpose of this bronze object and it's pair F1935.21 is unknown, the inspiration for the form is obvious. Like real tigers, the ferocious heads have alert, menacing eyes and erect ears, as if the matching animals are ready to move. Each low-slung body is supported by powerful, sturdy legs and ends with a long, coiled tail. Dots on the face represent whisker follicles, and stripes on the middle section, lower legs, and tails resemble the unique markings of these fierce creatures. Despite having added curving fangs and intricate decorations on the shoulders and haunches, the designer was obviously familiar with the appearance of real tigers. This suggests parts of north China were warm enough to support such wildlife three thousand years ago.

When the Freer Gallery acquired the pair in 1935, an accompanying note claimed the bronze tigers had been unearthed in 1923 at Baoji in Shaanxi province, where monarchs of the Zhou dynasty had reigned for more than a century.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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