Ornament Magazine

VOL37.1 2014

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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18 ORNAMENT 37.1.2013 realization came from the serendipity of seeing Leekan's collection, followed soon by that of Jacque Eng Wrinkle's personal collection, as well as those from the Ornament photographic archives, recording what I had seen over the past three decades or more. While I no longer have access to any of the ornaments shown here except the glass bangle, I did study them carefully whenever I photographed them. Allowing for wear, the careful observer can see that all the metalwork is well-executed, even though they are the output of craftsmen from typically simple and crudely equipped small workshops. But the quality of the die work is excellent, whether struck per the methods in Najdowski (2011) or cut out individually afterwards, like the bat or fu symbols on many bangles. Two part tin molds cast from repoussed patterns were shown in her article. The silver sheet metal would have had to have been well annealed, inserted between the tin molds and struck, or carefully pressed to obtain such well-formed and distinct impressions. It is not known what type of molds or dies are used to fabricate the decorated silver tubes and elements on rattan bracelets, although Hang (2005) does mention a press mold in the manufacture of silver and rattan bangles. True repoussé has been used in making Chinese metal toggles (Cammann 1962), although no tool marks indicative of chasing are discernible on the metalwork of the bracelets or bangles used for this article. Rattan is the most common bangle material, followed by silver, although bone or ivory, tortoise shell, lacquer, bamboo, wood (?), coral, jade, glass and metal combined with the previous substances have been used. Rattan is a climbing palm and widely used, especially in Southeast Asia. Rattan bangles combined with gold are in the collections of the Forbidden City (Hang 2005). Techniques observed in the sample studied include heatbending, carving, lacquer-work and kiln-working of glass but the majority feature metalworking methods: casting, repoussé, die-striking or press-molding, fabrication, cloisonné, enameling, wireworking, and stringing of beads. Although not illustrated in this article, some of the designs or motifs used on vintage bangles or bracelets date back to the Han Dynasty, when a molded glass bracelet carried the theme of opposing dragons with a pearl in their mouths (Liu 1975: 12.). In bangles, the pearl is represented as a sphere, usually in metal but lacking the stylized flames seen in more elaborate jewelry or textiles. Three complex bangles shown in Liu (1992) have dragon terminals and two are holding a pearl between them, a Qing interpretation of the dragon and pearl motif from the Han glass example. Besides the protective quality of the materials and the auspicious symbols used to decorate these arm ornaments, they are also valued for the pleasant jangling sound made when several are worn together. Thus these are also called rattan ringing bracelets. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Anne Lee and Paddy Kan of Leekan Designs for references, translations and the chance to study their extensive inventory. I also thank Jacque Eng Wrinkle for allowing me to study her own personal vintage Chinese bangles and bracelets. Sylvia Kennedy provided her lacquer bangles and photographs of her own rattan bangles, taken by Sian Kennedy, and sent to me for study. REFERENCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY Bartholomew, T.T. 2006 Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art. San Francisco, Asian Art Museum: 352 p. Cammann, S. 1962 Substance and Symbol in Chinese Toggles. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press: 256 p. Duda, M. 2002 Four centuries of silver. Personal adornment in the Qing Dynasty and after. Singapore, Times Edition: 208 p. Fang, J. 1996 Chinese silvers. Taipei, Monet Designs: 133 p. Hang, H. 2005 Precious adornment kit. Ming, Ching to Republic of China era. Female traditional silver ornaments. Beijing, Sanlian Bookstore: 422 p. Lingley, K. 2007 Excelling the work of heaven. Personal adornment from China. Honolulu, University of Hawai'i Art Gallery: 158 p. Liu, R. K. 1975 Ancient Chinese glass beads. Bead Journal 2 (2): 9-19. —1983 Formosan ornaments and clothing. Ornament 6 (4): 21-27. —1984 Imported Chinese jewelry. Ornament 7 (4): 56-61-53. —1992 Wholesale to the trade. Overseas Trading Company. Ornament 15 (3): 104-105. —2012 Bamboo jewelry. A sustainable resource. Ornament 35 (3): 60-65. Minick, S. and J. Ping. 1996 Arts and crafts of China. London, Thames and Hudson: 128 p. Najdowski, P. 2011 Guzang Miao Festival. Ceremonial Silver. Ornament 34 (5): 70-73. van Cutsem, A. 2003 A world of bracelets. Milan, Skira: 360 p. Wang, J.H. and B. Zhu 2006 Folk silver. Beijing, China Light Industries Press: 140 p. VARIETY OF VINTAGE CHINESE BANGLES of silver/enamel; two silver; strung beads of coral, turquoise and silver jump rings on metal base; cloisonné; three of openwork enamel and one of enamel and lacquer. Courtesy of J. Eng Wrinkle. ADDITIONAL BANGLES FROM WRINKLE'S PERSONAL COLLECTION of carved wood/bamboo, three of silver; five of rattan and silver with the last of rattan and jade, possibly made to repair a broken jade bangle. Similar one exists in the Leekan collection, so this may have been a common practice, given the value of jade.

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