Women's Hair Ornaments and Their Social Connotations in Old China (up)

Hair ornaments such as hair pins, hair clasps and crowns were everyday embellishments of women in old China. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911), women's hair ornaments expressed traditional Chinese thought and culture in exquisite, sophisticated techniques.

The patterns, craftsmanship, materials and number of hair ornaments a woman wore signified her social rank. Feudal etiquette defined the style of hair ornaments women wore on formal occasions, such as weddings or court ceremonies.

The generic term for hairpins and hair clasps is chignon(in Chinese pronunciation ji). A one bar chignon keeps coiled hair in place, and a two bar chignon is a feature of the hairstyle itself. Before the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) both Chinese men and women wore their hair in a coiled bun with a chignon to keep it in place.

The fashionable designs and diverse patterns of these ornaments made them a favorite ornament with women of all social strata.

Fashioned in materials that included jade, gold, silver, ivory, bronze and carved wood, the style, materials and craftsmanship of these hair ornaments reflected both social status and Chinese ethnic culture.

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* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts in China

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