Double-prong kingfisher-feather hairpin with floral motif

  • Year: late 19th-early 20th century (Qing dynasty)
  • Location: China

The ornament’s materiality is an example of the tradition of tian-tsui (traditional: 點翠, simplified: 点翠, pinyin: diǎncuì, “dotting with kingfishers”), a style of Chinese art featuring kingfisher feathers. For over 2,000 years, the Chinese have used the iridescent blue feathers of kingfisher birds as an inlay for fine art objects and adornments, from hairpins, headdresses, and fans to panels and screens. Traditionally, the use of kingfisher feathers was a mark of nobility and wealth.

This tian-tsui hairpin dates from late in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), a time when the rising middle class Chinese women could emulate the finery traditionally associated with elite status. – Wikipedia / Cooper Hewitt

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