| Dagger

Dian culture
Yunnan, China

Dagger 300-200 BCE
27.5 (h) x 8.0 (w) x 1.0 (d) cm
Musée Barbier Mueller, Geneva
© Musée Barbier-Mueller Photograph: Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet


The cemeteries of the rulers of the ancient Dian Culture were rediscovered in the 1950s in Yunnan in China’s south, bordering the modern Southeast Asian nations of Burma, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The spectacular Dian grave goods include bronze weapons and containers for precious cowry shells. This dagger depicts human figures and a dramatic central cross. Probably created for ceremonial use rather than for battle, it may have been interred as a symbol of masculinity, wealth and status.

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