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Pair of gold ear-rings


Length: 5.500 cm

Eumorfopoulos Collection

Asia OA 1938.5-24.242

Room 67: Korea

    Pair of gold ear-rings

    From Korea
    Silla dynasty, 5th-6th centuries AD

    Silla's love of gold and its workmanship

    The isolated kingdom of Silla was long known to Arab traders and travellers, who commented on the abundance of gold there:

    'What lies on the other side of China is unknown land. But high mountains rise up densely across from Kantu. These lie over in the land of Silla, which is rich in gold'.
    Ibn Khordadhbeh, Book of Roads and Provinces, late ninth century AD.

    Excavations of royal tombs near Silla's capital, Kumsong, or 'City of Gold' (modern Kyongju) have unearthed magnificent royal regalia in sheet gold, including crowns, belts, shoes, earrings, necklaces and vessels. This pair of gold ear-rings probably came from a tomb in the Kyongju area.

    Both the custom of wearing earrings and the technique of granulation are thought have come to Korea through the Han colony at Nangnang (Lelang 108 BC - AD 313) in northern China. However, the Chinese wore glass earrings and it is thought that the Koreans introduced gold ones in the fourth century AD. They appear to have been worn with strings around the ear lobe.

    J. Portal, Korea - art and archaeology (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)


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    On display: Room 67: Korea

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    Korean art and archaeology, £9.99

    Korean art and archaeology, £9.99