Pitcher with Dragon Head


Pitcher with Dragon Head


Asuka period, 7th century

Gold- and silver-plated bronze

全高49.9 胴径18.9


National Treasure

The origins of this kind of pitcher, characterized by its long neck, round body, and handle, may be traced back to the ancient Sasanian Empire of Iran.
Engraved onto the body are winged horses. These mythical creatures are known for pulling the chariot of the sun god Apollo, and also appear on the murals above the heads of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in central Afghanistan, a region that was once an important part of the Silk Road. Although the depiction of these creatures on the pitcher shows influence from Tang China and the Korean kingdom of Baekche, this pitcher was most likely created in Japan. This is the oldest object created in Japan that features images of these winged horses. Moreover, the mouth and handle imitate the form of a Chinese dragon, with the hinged lid serving as the head.
This pitcher thus serves as a symbol of the spectacular international exchange of cultures that took place along the ancient Silk Road.

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