Length: 3 1/2 inches, 9 cm


Plate 1

Pair of gold ear ornaments

China, Northern Wei dynasty, 386 – 535

A pair of gold ear ornaments, consisting of a central openwork filigree ball suspended from a delicate tree, from which leaf-shaped ornaments are suspended.  Six chains hang from the central ball, each suspending a blade-like ornament.

The structure of these delicate earrings ensures that there is constant movement in these ear pendants when worn.  A pair of comparable earrings, also dated to the Northern Wei dynasty, was excavated in 1964 at Baoxian in Hebei province.[1]  Two pairs of comparable earrings, dated to the Northern Wei dynasty, are in the Muwen Tang collection.[2]  The same collection also houses a group of gold openwork spheres with granulation.[3]  A pair of similar earrings with additional amber beads is in the collection of the Datong Museum in Shanxi province (plate. 1).

1    Wei, H, and Deydier, C. Ancient Chinese Gold, France 2001, plate 249, p. 103
2    Kwan, S. and Ji, S. Chinese Gold Ornaments, The Muwen Tang Collection Series, Hong Kong, 2003, nos. 184 and 185, pp. 332 + 3
3    Kwan, S. and Ji, S. op. cit. no 183, pp. 330 + 1op. cit. no. 4:6, p. 136