Sunday, September 30, 2018

Kingfisher Hair Ornaments from Qing Dynasty China

The noble women of Qing Dynasty China (1644-1911) loved the blue color of kingfisher feathers.

Much jewelry was made for them incorporating either actual kingfisher feathers or enamel that tried to duplicate the color.

Kingfisher blue was especially used in the hair ornaments that women wore on special occasions; here is a portrait of a nineteenth-century woman wearing one, now in the Freer Sackler. The Freer-Sackler also has several of these ornaments. Notice how the kingfisher blue stands out from the otherwise muted colors.

These two are in the Walters, which says that they probably belonged to the Empress Dowager Cixi, China's last imperial ruler.


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