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Pair of Miao Silver Spiral Earrings

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

length: 11cm, width: 5.7cm, combined weight: 65g



private collection, London.

Each of this fine pair of silver earrings comprises three flattened and tightly-wound spirals beneath a spiral cone above which is a loop for the ear. They are particularly well made and evidence the excellent silversmithing abilities among some Miao communities.

Related examples are illustrated in Daalder (2009, p. 260). A more rudimentary set ascribed to the Yao people is illustrated in Pourret (2002, p. 163).

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 examples here are particularly good and sculptural, and have good wear and patina.


Daalder, T., Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment: Australia, Oceania, Asia, Africa, Ethnic Art Press/Macmillan, 2009.
Pourret, J.G., The Yao: The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Thames & Hudson, 2002.

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