This unusual finial is cast in the form of a stylized tiger head. Generously gilded overall, the basically rectangular fitting is hollow so as to allow slipping over the end of a wooden shaft or support. The large, heavily lidded eyes project like orbs from the boldly sculpted head, divided by a long cylindrical nose in front of the petal-shaped ears flattened back on the feline head. The whiskered jowls are pulled back to reveal a teeth-clenched grin.
Stylistically, the finial is a perfect expression of Western Han period sculpture, distinguished by its boldness, clear-cut powerful forms, and a perfect marriage of the natural and the abstract. Its function and dating are supported by archaeological finds.
For a complete writeup with illustrated comparative material download the PDF.