Miao-style Oxhorn-shaped Hair Ornament
On the two horn tips there are motifs signifying the sun and the moon. Four silver strips stand in parallel between the two horns but higher than the latter, with fringe-biting butterflies attached to each of their tips. Vivid motifs - phoenix and centipedes - can also be found on these silver plates.
This piece of silverware features the traditional Chinese pattern of “Two Dragons Playing with One Pearl” on its fan-shaped ornament. The motifs of plum blossoms along the outline of the fan, as well as the chased patterns of birds and fish recurring in the blanks around the dragons, are a testimony to the dragons’ role as a guardian deity to provide security and care for all creatures on earth.
The highlight of this flower hairpin lies in its body that has gone through the procedure of bluing. Thanks to this procedure, this pin gained an opaque but glassy, smooth and lustrous texture taking on an elegant palette with turquoise as the dominant color. There are 22 decorative chains altogether hanging from the pin, with an average length of 4.5cm.
With a weight of 4g, this hairpin is made of silver and kingfisher feathers inlaying, and tian-tsui, literally meaning “dotting with kingfishers”, a centuries-old intricate Chinese technique of inlaying tiny pieces of iridescent kingfisher feathers within a sliver gilt frame and base to give an overall effect not visually dissimilar from cloisonné work. But unlike enamels, the glorious, lustrous kingfisher jewelry will never fade. The wings of the butterfly on this pin was illustrated by tian-tsui, while its eyes were inlaid.