4561

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Pair of Large Hainanese Silver Hoop Earrings

Li People, Hanian, China
19th-early 20th century

length: 16.5cm, width: 13.2cm, combined weight: 557g

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Provenance

private collection, London

This remarkable pair of earrings comprises eight solid silver rings in increasing sizes and which are suspended from a hook. The outer three rings are twisted, providing a pleasing contrast with the inner four rings which are engraved with flower and leaf motifs.

For a related pair, see Beringen (2006, p. 91).

The Li people are almost entirely all from Hainan Island off China’s souther coast. They refer to themselves as the Hlai people, and form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China. They speak their own Hlai language, a member of the Tai–Kadai language family, and are believed to be descendants of the ancient Yue tribes of China and Vietnam.

The earrings here are particularly fine and sculptural, and are among the best of their type that we have seen.

References

Beringen, J., et al, The Art of Silver Jewellery: From the Minorities of China, the Golden Triangle, Mongolia and Tibet – The Rene van der Star Collection, Skira, 2006.

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