Detail View: The AMICA Library: Bixie (Mythical Animal)

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: 
Bixie (Mythical Animal)
Full view
Creation Date: 
Western Han period (206 BCE-CE 9)
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Gilt bronze
Classification Term: 
Creation Place: 
North China
1 1/2 x 3 5/8 x 2 1/4 in. (3.8 x 9.2 x 5.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
During the Han dynasty (206 BCE-CE 220), bronze was used to make a wide range of vessels as well as weights, tallies, tomb sculptures, lamps, censers, coins, mirrors, and other objects. This small bronze sculpture of a mythical animal known as a bixie may reflect the Han-period fascination with auspicious portents (xiangrui) and magical animals. Many of the more common motifs in the visual arts, such as dragons, unicorns, winged horses, and other composite creatures as well as images of beings not entirely human, are examples of the astonishing variety of auspicious omens that are cited in Han literature and historical records. The bixie, believed to appear during eras of good government, is winged and has two horns. The animal's crouching position and sense of menace help to date this sculpture to the Western Han period (206 BCE-CE 9). It is difficult to determine the intended function of this intriguing sculpture; similar smaller pieces were used as weights for floor coverings, but this large example might have been sculpted for a tomb.
Related Document Description: 
The Animal in Chinese Art. London: Arts Council of Great Britain and Oriental Ceramic Society, 1968, n.p.
Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 53.
Related Document Description: 
Gure, Desmond. 'Selected Examples from the Jade Exhibition at Stockholm, 1963: A Comparative Study.' Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 36 (1964), p. 136.
Related Document Description: 
Jenyns, R. Soame, and William Watson. Chinese Art, vol. 2, The Minor Arts: Gold, Silver, Bronze, Cloisonné, Cantonese Enamel, Lacquer, Furniture, Wood. New York: Universe Books, 1963, pp. 138, 139.
Related Document Description: 
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities and AB Gustavsbergs Fabriker. Celadon-Jade: Finds, Specimen, Scientific Results. Stockholm: National Museum, 1963, p. 25.
Related Document Description: 
Sotheby and Co. Chinese Art, the Property of A. E. Gilou (auction, London, May 9, 1962), lot 29.
Related Document Description: 
Sotheby and Co. Important Collections of Chinese Ceramics, the Property of the Late Mrs. Walter Sedgwick (auction, London, July 2, 1968), p. 11.
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