Inventory no.: 2747

Dao Yao Hair Ornament


Silver Celestial Headdress

Kim Mun Lantien Sha of the Dao/Yao People, Laos/Northern Thailand/Southern China

early 20th century

diameter: 18cm, weight: 288g

This ornament comprising a central disc decorated with a ten-ray star-bust motif surrounded by dozens of silver discs arrayed in two rows, with a backing of woven human hair, is a celestial headdress worn by certain post-pubescent women belonging to ‘hill tribe’ groups in the northern Thai-Yunnan (Golden Triangle) area.

Such headdresses were worn like crowns for a variety of ceremonies including marriages and were used to cover-up the long, coiled hair of the wearer. The reverse of the headdress has a silver pin to allow it to be worn by being pinned through the hair.

Related examples are illustrated in van Cutsem (2005, p. 166; 2010, p. 133), Daalder (2009, p. 220), and Pourret (2002, p. 164).

The example here is in excellent condition and has a fine patina.


van Cutsem, A., A World of Head Ornaments: Africa, Asia Oceania, America, Skira, 2005.

van Cutsem, A., & M. Magliani,

Powerful Headdresses: Africa-Asia: The Ira Brind Collection, 5 Continents, 2010.

Daalder, T.,

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment: Australia, Oceania, Asia, Africa, Ethnic Art Press/Macmillan, 2009.

Lewis, P. & E.,

Peoples of the Golden Triangle: Six Tribes in Thailand, Thames & Hudson, 1984.

Pourret, J.G.,

The Yao: The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Thames & Hudson, 2002.Provenance:

UK art market

Inventory no.: 2747