Gold scarf pendant or pomander

Song dynasty, 960 – 1279

Length: 3 1⁄4 inches, 8.2 cm

A yellow gold teardrop.shaped scarf pendant or pomander, consisting of two openwork halves fitting together to form a container with a recessed centre. The flat front and back are worked in fine detail on the exterior with mirrored intricate designs of curling branches, the edges of which are decorated with faux-beading. The pointed top of the pomander is drilled for suspension. The flat sides have faux-beading on the edges, and are punched with tiny floral scrolls. The high-carat gold retains a lustrous, golden sheen.


This intricate object in gold was made as a scarf pendant and possibly belonged to a high-ranking lady. The Chinese term for scarf, xiappei, first appeared in the Tang dynasty (618 – 906). Teardrop-shaped scarf pendants were created in the Song dynasty (906 – 1279) and especially favoured by women of the Southern Song period (1127 – 1279). Aromatic substances were sometimes put into these openwork pendants, turning them into pomanders that are scarf decorations as well as functional objects.[1] A painting of the Song dynasty Empress Xuanzu illustrates a similar teardrop-shaped pendant attached to the end of her scarf.[2] Most scarf pendants of this period are decorated with birds, flowers and dragons; the abstract design on the present example would therefore appear to be very unusual. A similar openwork gold scarf pendant decorated with flowers and described as a ‘perfume container’, is in the Mengdiexuan collection.[3] Another example, also dated to the Song dynasty, is in the Cheng Xun Tang collection.[4] A further comparable gilded scarf pendant of intricate design, excavated from a tomb in Fuzhou city, Fujian province in 1975 and dated to 1243 AD, is in the collection of the Fujian Provincial Museum.[5]

Private collection, Europe

  1. Lam, P. Y.K. Celestial Creations: Art of the Chinese Goldsmith, the Cheng Xun Tang Collection, Art Museum, institute of Chinese Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007, Vol. II, p. 500
  2. National Palace Museum, Taiwan online collection archive, no… 301
  3. White, J.M. and Bunker, E.C. op. cit. no. 98, p. 186
  4. Lam, P. Y.K. op. cit. Col. I, no. D27, pp. 224.5
  5. Fujian Provincial Museum, ‘Fuzhoushi beijao nansongmu qingli jianbao (Report of the excavation at the Southern Song tomb in the northern Fuzhou city) in Wenwu, 1977, vol. 07, pl. 3.4