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Green Jade Hair Ornament

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: semi-precious green stone
Dimensions: height: 34.4 cm, width: 3.1cm
This rectangular hair ornament (Chinese bianfang) is carved from a type of semi-precious green stone (called cui, considered a type of jade). Long and flat, the ornament is rounded on one end and features a scrolled design on the other. Both ends of the scrolled design are embellished with a plum blossom design. Variegated with white patches, the primarily green-toned ornament has a sophisticated function and an appealing luster.
  These accessories were the primary hair ornaments worn by women of the Manchu aristocracy, who typically arranged their hair in the distinctive two-bundle style (liangba tou, lit. "two bundle head" or "two-fisted head"). They served as additional adornment and functioned as supports for bundled hair. After first dividing a woman’s long hair into two large bundles, the attendant would then use the ornament to fix the hair in place. During the late-Qing period, black satin was used in lieu of actual hair to produce the two-bundle look, and the ornament functioned to stabilize the attached satin-bundles and base of hair. Many of these ornaments were fashioned from jade, sea-turtle shell, and other materials. Some were made of gold with inlaid jade or gems or with gilt designs.

Keywords: rectangular hair ornament (bianfang), Manchu (manzu), sea-turtle shell (daimao), inlay (xiangqian)


Translated by Wang Mengxi and Adam J. Ensign

Edited by Zhuang Ying 
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