Silver inlay was used to create the flowing spirals and curves that embellish this bronze pole fitting with a clasp in the shape of a crouching tiger. The fluidity and openness of the inlay decoration helps to date this piece to the 3rd century BCE, because the design of earlier bronzes with this method of decoration is generally denser and more static. Also called 'tube couplers,' pole ornaments such as this were most likely used to join two parts of a wooden pole. The elegance of this example suggests that it was used as a decorative element for a chariot, palanquin, or some other extravagance.
The appearance of abstract designs and inlaid decoration and the use of bronze to make luxurious and beautiful items for everyday use illustrate the shifting roles of bronze items during the last part of the Zhou dynasty. Bronzes were no longer a privilege of the ruling class, and bronze vessels once reserved primarily for rituals were now used at state banquets, in family festivities, as diplomatic gifts, and in dowries.