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Chinese Hairpins and Their Connotations

Hairpins and hair clasps were everyday elaborations in recent China. Throughout the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911), women's hair ornaments expressed ancient Chinese thought and culture in exquisite, refined techniques.
The generic term for hairpins and hair clasps is ji. A ji keeps coiled hair in place. Before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) each Chinese men and girls wore their hair in a much coiled bun with a ji to stay it in place. Fashioned in materials that included jade, gold, silver, ivory, bronze and carved wood, the style, materials and craftsmanship of those hair ornaments mirrored each social standing and Chinese ethnic culture.

The patterns, craftsmanship, materials and range of hair ornaments a lady wore signified her social rank. Feudal etiquette outlined the design of hair ornaments girls wore on formal occasions, like weddings or court ceremonies. But to the ladies of ancient China the ji was way more than simply a hair ornament. The ji ceremony, that bestowed a hairpin upon a young lady when she reached the age of fifteen, was a ceremony of passage signifying that she had reached marriageable age.

The elaborate buyao hairpin was an exquisite hair ornament denoting noble standing. Typically encrusted with jewels and that includes carved styles, the most feature of a buyao was its pendants that flatteringly framed the wearer's face and "danced" as she moved. This ornament was typically fabricated from of gold within the form of a dragon or phoenix and adorned with pearls and jade. Designs depicting auspicious objects included musical instruments, chess items, calligraphic characters, and therefore the "four treasures of the scholar's studio" comprising the calligraphy brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper.

Among in style ornamental patterns were auspicious birds and beasts, like the dragon, phoenix, crane, deer and therefore the twelve animals of the Chinese "zodiac." The deer was thought of a propitious animal as a result of its pronunciation in Chinese is that the same as that for 6 that denotes success. Hairpins within the style of a mandarin duck denoted married bliss. Patterns of flowers and fruit-bearing trees featured the peony, lotus flower, plum, guava and asphodel. The 5 petals on a plum represent blessings, high-salary, longevity, luck and wealth.
A hairpin additionally functioned as a love token. When Chinese lovers of past were forced to half they'd typically split a hairpin, each keeping a half with them in any respect times till they were reunited.