A half part of a military tally, finley cast in the form of a crouching tiger. Inside the tally is a protruding character and two round holes. Beneath the tally, nine incised halves of characters.The tally is made of bronze, with remnants of the original gilding and a fine patina. China, Early Ming dynasty or earlier. Height: 4.2 cm. Length: 8.2 cm. Very good condition.
NOTE: a tally was used to command troops in ancient China. A messenger entrusted with delivering the emperor's orders carried half of the tally as a sign of his credibility. Along its inside were protruding bosses which fit prefectly into recesses on the tally other half, which was held by the field commander who was to execute the orders.