Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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hair ornament
  • Cai Xinchun
  • hair ornament, late 1800s-1900s, Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
  • Where object was made: China
  • gold filigree, brass, pearl, jade, glass, diancui
  • Object Height/Width/Depth: 175 x 90 mm
  • William Bridges Thayer Memorial
  • Not on display
  • 1928.0324
Label Text

Gold hair ornament with a phoenix on a wire spring and wings and tail on wire springs. The tiny golden feathers that cover the bird's body and comprise its wings and tail are edges with very fine filigree wire. All of the surfaces of the bird were originally covered in blue kingfisher feathers using a technique known as 點翠 (diancui). These feathers make up the blue color that is visible on the surfaces of the phoenix. Each wing is set with a glass cabbachon of faux-jade, and a jade cabochon decorates the center of the tail beneath the sculpted flower. Four pearls were set into the eyes of the peacock feathers that form the tail, and three now remain. The phoenix holds a string of small pearls in its beak, from which dangles a knot-shaped ornament and three strings of pearls. Two of these strings terminate in faceted glass faux garnets, while the middle string terminates in a red cabachon. Each of these ends is capped with a gold cap that was once also covered in kingfisher feathers, vestiges of which still cling to the metal.