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Hair Ornaments of Ancient China

Those precious hair ornaments handed down from ancestors or unearthed as relics witnessed the passing of thousands of years, holding both sweet and sad fragments of the past.

Before the Qing Dynasty, both Chinese men and women would comb their hair in a coiled bun and keep it in place by applying hairpins, but women's hair ornaments were more delicate than men's. Ancient documents recorded a great number of women's hair ornaments, including hairpins, buyaos (hairpins with pendants),hair clasps and gold flowers etc. 

Dated back to the Neolithic Age, women started to use jewelries like hairpins. When to the feudal ages, wearing a hairpin would symbolize a girl's coming of age. And a hair-pinning ceremony would be held in a girl's 15, called "jiji" in Chinese, showing the girl has already grown up. Criminals were not allowed to wear hairpins. Hairpins and hair clasps were, actually similar to each other, but a hairpin was a one-strand fastener while a hair clasp was a two-strand one.

Buyao was another typical kind of hair jewel for ancient women. It was a modification of a hairpin and hair clasp. A classical buyao was a hairpin added with unfixed flower-shaped pendicles. It would constantly sway with the wearer's steps, hence the name "buyao", literally meaning "shake as you go". Most buyaos were made of gold into the shape of a dragon or phoenix, decorated with pearls and jade.