Pole ornament with two owl heads

Accession No. R005056
Period Shang Dynasty
Material Stone
Findspot Royal Tomb No. 1001 Hsi-pei-kang, Yin-xu Site
Geographic Location Hou-Chia-Chuang village, Anyang, Honan province, China
Dimension H.18.9 cm; L.21.4 cm; W.1.36 cm


This pole ornament with two owl heads is identical to R005055. The pair of them make the only two double sided owl head figures in the Yinxu artifacts. Owl faces on the opposite sides are identical and divided by engraved lines. The shape of the head is a top-heavy trapezoid. The incurving beak of the owl is rendered in high relief and decorated with raised lines and zigzags. The horns, ears and the jaw of the owl are portraited with low relief. The owl has engraved “臣” character shaped eyes. The top and bottom sections of the artifact are undecorated, with the top being diamond shaped, and the bottom oval shaped. Through the middle of the artifact is a tubular hole with parallel grinding tool marks on its interior wall. It is suspected the hole was created with tubular drilling technology. The artifact was possibly an ornamentation piece on a wooden pole or architectural structure. In comparison to R005055, this artifact is relatively weathered and has damage on its surface. Nevertheless, the balanced lines, usage of openwork carving, embossing and engraving techniques, which created different depth and layers upon the art piece, along with the intricate surface polishing, all embody the excellent craftmanship of the Shang period.

It is not easy to establish the details of the holes. This model is for reference only.