A very pretty Chinese hair accessory in the form of a figural butterfly further embellished with multi coloured enamel
CONDITION: good vintage condition with expected wear
SIZE: 3 ins h x 1½ ins w ( 7.5 x 4 cms)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1900-1920s
This delightful ornament takes the form of a single pronged pin with an overarched piece which is in the form of a figural butterfly. It is richly decorated all over with enamel in shades of blue, purple and yellow spots on the wings. The feelers of the insect are represented by delicately coiled wires.
At the imperial court in the 19th century Manchu women wore headdress which was shaped like a pair of batwings and sat atop the head. Such ornaments would have been attached to the heeaddress in wear. Picture 9 shows a modern interpretation of this style of headdress from a Chinese film.
The fashionable designs and diverse patterns of such hair accessories as these ornaments made them a favorite ornament with women of all social strata. Fashioned in materials that included jade, gold, silver, ivory, bronze and carved wood, the style, materials and craftsmanship of these hair ornaments reflected both social status and Chinese ethnic culture.
The patterns, craftsmanship, materials and number of hair ornaments a woman wore signified her social rank. Feudal etiquette defined the style of hair ornaments women wore on formal occasions, such as weddings or court ceremonies.
Among popular decorative patterns were auspicious birds and beasts, such as the dragon, phoenix, crane, deer and the 12 animals of the Chinese "zodiac." Patterns of flowers and fruit-bearing trees featured the peony, lotus flower, plum, guava and asphodel.
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