4560

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Miao Double Spiral Silver Cloak Counterweight

Miao People, Guizhou, China
19th-early 20th century

width: 22.2cm, height: 11.3cm, weight: 200g

Sold

Provenance

private collection, London.

This high-grade silver double spiral counterweight or ribbon tie from the Miao people of southern China, is the finest example of such an item we have seen, published or otherwise. The fine, flattened, tightly wound spirals are remarkable achievements in silversmithing. The strands that make up the coils of other examples we have seen are not nearly as fine as in the example here.

Less elaborate examples with less fine coiling are illustrated in Daalder (2009, p. 268) and Hoek (2004, p. 193).

The Miao people live in southern China most notably in Guizhou province. But Miao sub-groups such as the Hmong live in northern Thailand and eastern Burma as well. The wearing of silver jewellery among Miao women was very important. It was a sign of femininity and wealth. Families would begin saving to buy silver jewellery from the time a daughter was born, so that she would enter a marriage with a significant collection of silver jewellery which would be her own source of wealth. Thereafter, copious amounts of silver jewellery would be worn at weddings, funerals and springtime celebrations.

The example here is in excellent condition. It is large, sculptural and has good wear and patina.

[The cloak weight in a double spiral form is an ancient form. The final image shows an example, which dates back to 11th-5th century BC, and which was found in northern Italy, that is on display in the d’Art et d’Histoire (Museum of Art and History) in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photographed May 2018.)]

References

Daalder, T., Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment: Australia, Oceania, Asia, Africa, Ethnic Art Press/Macmillan, 2009.
Hoek, C., et al, Ethnic Jewellery: From Africa, Asia and Pacific Islands, Pepin Press, 2004.

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