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This elaborate ornament in solid, high-grade gold filigree would have been sewn onto a headdress or hat of a member of the Imperial Court in China. It shows a thin, sinewy dragon writhing through copious, leafy foliage, chasing a pearl.
Similar examples of this type of goldwork inset with pearls intended to adorn the costumes of the members of the Imperial Household are in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and illustrated in Chen et al (1986) and National Palace Museum (2012).
Other examples were intended to be further decorated with the application of blue kingfisher segments but that is not the case here.
The item is delicate and there are minor losses here and there.
Chen, H.S. et al, Catalogue of the Exhibition of Ch’ing Dynasty Costume Accessories, National Palace Museum, 1986.
National Palace Museum, Royal Style: Qing Dynasty and Western Court Jewellery, 2012.