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Dragons and the Invisible Pearl
Fig. 5. Drawing of the shell - The Trustees of the British Museum - 1504261001
The shell has been polished and Chinese craftsmen covered its mother-of-pearl-layers with a dense network of patterns. We see one pair of dragons on each side and floral elements and foliage incised on its spine. The patterns are so rich and detailed that the British Museum made a drawing in order to fully map its complexity.(Fig. 5)
The dragon on the left has been beheaded by the mounts. A gilded fishtailed figure covers it, as it is mounted over one of the dragon's heads. This figure also obscures the pearl that the dragons are fighting over, a common scene in Chinese art.