Length: 5.000 cm
Height: 3.400 cm
Asia OA 1910.12-24.3
Room 33: Asia
Jade hair ornament
Qing dynasty (AD 1644-1911)
This hair ornament was used to hold a hair bun, or topknot, in place. It was carved from a rectangular block of jade, with the inside hollow out. The top is divided into five ribs, framed by spirals at the ends. The ornament is pierced below the spirals for the insertion of a pin.
Similar ornaments are shown in paintings of the Song dynasty (960-1279). Most excavated examples, however, are from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Sometimes the ribbed decoration is framed by finely carved dragons or other animals. These items were made in gold and silver, as well as jade.
Historically, jade has been considered the most precious material in China, admired for its texture and subtle colour variations. This hair ornament exhibits both these properties.
J. Rawson, Chinese jade: from the Neolith (London, The British Museum Press, 1995, reprinted 2002)