What started out as a labor project on something falling apart. Morphed into “what is the Dragon hanging hook all about”? The birdcage itself is intricately carved and detailed. But knowing now what we do about the hook, we wonder what the original value of the birdcage must have been?
The birdcage was found at a high end estate sale. The cage literally in ruin from hanging out in the weather. Falling apart. Joints of the bamboo separated. Pieces split.
We started a painstaking gluing project. Not much investment in repair supplies. But much labor having to reconstruct cracked, split, and falling apart pieces. Multiple steps to repair one stage before the next stage could be attempted. Improvising a way to clamp in small spaces.
What we thought were small brads/nails holding parts together are actually tiny wooden pegs. Luckily these were all removed intact. Restoring this as close to original as possible, will require the re-use of these pegs.
The top hanging hook [Dragon] was removed so we could flip the cage upside down while making repairs.
We had the project outside and noticed the eyes [crystals] of the Dragon catching and refracting and reflecting light in a way we assumed the substance was much more than glass. Ironically taking some photos we also realized there was a ball inside the mouth of the Dragon. The ball was something we had missed until looking at photography done with a telephoto lens.
Using an electronic gem tester the eyes test in the Tourmaline range. The ball in the Dragons mouth does not test as gemstone or glass. We assume from the looks of it, the ball may be a small pearl? A pearl makes perfect sense too. There is a tremendous amount of Asian folklore surrounding the connection between Dragons and Pearls.
The Dragon in itself is unique. Not even considering the eyes or the ball/pearl in its mouth. At first glance we thought it very plain and unassuming. Thinking it was cast iron or forged iron. It has a weathered nearly flat black appearance.
Since the eyes now test a value more than they appeared. We tested the metal of the Dragon with a magnet. The metal is non-ferrous. Meaning a magnet does not stick. That means the metal does not contain iron. On close inspection we believe this is long weathered bronze with years of patina.
We would certainly like more information from anyone out there that can educate us. We feel the hook itself has more value than the birdcage it was attached to.