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Superb Official’s Gold, Turquoise & Glass Ear Pendant (Sochi) & Box

19th century

length of ear pendant: 16.5cm, length of box: 20cm



private collection, London.

This museum-quality Tibetan government official’s ear pendant, known as a sochi, is the largest and finest example we have had. It was made for a Tibetan man in the employ of the Tibetan government as a sign of his status and was worn singularly and not as a pair. (All Tibetan men would wear at least one earring varying according to status or fashion. Borel (1994, p. 169) relates a Tibetan superstition that whomever wears no earring is likely to be reincarnated as a donkey.)

The pendant is thin and pencil-like. It made from twisted gold and pearled wire, gold sheet, a single baroque pearl, turquoise plaques, and a long turquoise- coloured glass drop.

Such pendants were worn from the left ear as a badge of office by Tibetan government ministers and officials.

The gold hoop at the top of the pendant fitted through the pierced ear but the weight of the pendant usually was supported by a thin strip of silk textile that was attached to the hoop and which fitted over the ear. Unusually, the silk cord is present in the example here.

The example here also retains its original steel box . The box itself has obvious age.

See Casey Singer (1996, p. 100-1), Clarke (2004, p. 65) and Reynolds (1978, p. 46) for related examples. Two examples are displayed in the British Museum.

Both the ear pendant and box are in excellent condition.

Two examples of official’s ear pendants displayed in the British Museum.


Borel, F., The Splendour of Ethnic Jewelry: From the Colette and Jean-Pierre Ghysels Collection, Thames & Hudson, 1994.

Casey Singer, J., Gold Jewelry from Tibet and Nepal, Thames & Hudson, 1996.

Clarke, J., Jewellery of Tibet and the Himalayas, V&A Publications, 2004.

Reynolds, V., Tibet: A Lost World: The Newark Museum Collection of Tibetan Art and Ethnology, The American Federation of Arts, 1978.

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