Chinese Personal Adornments


Chinese Decorative Arts Gallery
September 4, 2013 - February 2014

Above: Embroidered Child's Tiger Hat, about 1875, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), silk satin, silk thread, gold foil, metal beads and paper; Alexander H. Bullock Fund, 2012.70

In Chinese personal adornments the emphasis is on a language of symbolic motifs that conveys propitious and protective wishes for good fortune, long life, wealth, fertility, happiness and good health. In vogue as bridal gifts or as part of dowries during the later Qing dynasty (1644-1912), elaborate hair ornaments were made of silver alloys enhanced with gold leaf and embellished with semiprecious stones, glass beads, silk and kingfisher feathers. Iridescent blue kingfisher feathers were cut into small inlays and glued into tiny cells created by thin wires soldered to a metal backing. Also on view, two textile accessories—a child's "tiger hat" and a man's purse—show a similar emphasis on skilled craftsmanship and symbolic motifs.

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