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Knocker Base

The two-leafed gate of a traditional Chinese house has a pair of ring knockers, whose base, called pushou, serves also a decorative purpose. The knocker-bases for a private house are fixed only on the outermost, more solidly-built gate. They are normally simple discs made of iron or brass. People who call at the house will tap one of the rings lightly, which will hit the base to produce clear percussions. In answer to the sound, the people of the house will come to open the door to greet the visitor. When the owner of the house goes out he can lock up the gate by fastening the knocker-rings together.

The knocker bases on palace gates, naturally, are much more elaborate. Made of gold-gilded brass, they are in the form of tigers, lions, turtles, snakes or other animals which were supposed to possess magic powers or unequalled strength. The consummate art with which they were carved also contribute to the splendor of the edifices.

Pushou first appeared in China during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) and have had a history of 2,000 years. Today they still decorate the houses newly built in the countryside, but they are disappearing in cities where modern multi-storied buildings are being constructed in increasing numbers.

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