VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Pair of pendants
MPE 132437
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

A perfect achievement of Chinese jewellery of the Qing period (1644-1911). The chromatic contrast between pink corals and turquoise feathers, obtained through an elaborate processing technique, makes this class of ornament extremely sophisticated. Such artefacts, characterized by precious materials such as corals and kingfisher's feathers, are rarely represented in museum's collections. This “minor” manufacturing draws from the traditional well-wishing figurative stock, which symbolically evokes the feminine world, beauty and longevity.

History of the Object
Chinese jewellery of the Qing period was part of an elaborate system of symbolic communication, aiming at representing the rank and social position within the imperial bureaucracy. Jewel's quality and number, varying according to a lady's rank, were concentrated around the face and on the head, forming a whole set called tou mian. Artefacts designed for the imperial court used to meet very strict rules and observe great details concerning clothing and ornaments. Within the list of materials, iridescent turquoise colour of the kingfisher's feathers had the meaning of a rank mark, rather than an aesthetic and ornamental one.

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Type
Costume and Jewelry 
Materials
Kingfisher's feathers, glass beads, gilded metal, coral 
Measurements
Width 4 cm. Length 6.6 cm.  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 18th century ~ AD 19th century 
Creation date
18th Century - 19th Century; about 1800 
Function
Ornamental, symbol of social rank 
Acquisition
Donated by the italian diplomat in China, Giuseppe Ros, 1926 
Copyright
©Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Roma 
Acknowledgements
Text: Carlotta Romano Photo: Giorgio Bronchi, Fabio Naccari ©Soprintendenza al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, Roma 
Owner
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico Luigi Pigorini, RomaState property, Italy 
Museum
Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnografico  
Credit line
 

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