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Chinese Arts - Handicrafts
Gold and Silver Objects 金銀文物

Silver and gold are the most precious metals and at the same time relatively easy to work with so that in every culture, art treasures made of noble metal have developed. For some cultures in old America, gold was even the only metal they could work with. In China, goldsmithry was developed quite late. The oldest items are from the Warring States period.
Golden headdress, Xiongnu A golden crown with spiral headband, from the area of Xiongnu 匈奴 people. The motives of the band are not influenced by Chinese art but remind of the Thracian goldsmith's art. The eagle's head is made of turquois.
Golden earrings with turquois, Xiongnu This pair of eardrops are also from the Xiongnu area in Inner Mongolia. The left piece has a pendant turquois stone.
Silver adornment in monkey shape, Warring States This piece of jewelry with the shape of a monkey from the Warring States period 戰國 was found in Shandong. The core is made of silver and partially covered with gold. Small blue stones are inlaid in the animal's eye sockets.
Golden cup and spoon, Warring States This vessel called zhan 盞 was dug out of the Warring States tomb of Marquis Zeng 曾侯 in Hubei. The filagree spoon is a hint that this bowl of solid gold (weight 2150 g, diameter 15 cm) has not been used for liquids.
Golden tigers, Warring States Slim and gender is this pair of silver tigers from the Warring States period.
Silver plate, Qin Silver dish from the Qin Dynasty 秦 (diameter 37 cm) with fine gold inserts. The pattern reminds of the lions in Nordic art.
Gold seal, Western Han Gold seal of Han Dynasty emperor Wendi 漢文帝 (height ca. 2 cm). The inscription says, "Executive seal of Wendi" 文帝行璽.
Golden hairdress, Northern Yan (16 Kingdoms period) Head ornament from the Northern Dynasties 北朝 (actually: Northern Yan 北燕). This kind of ornament with the always moving small spangles was popular until the 20th century, in most cases as a hairpin. The example to the left looks more like a crown.
Golden cup, Tang The influence of Central Asian and Near Eastern art can be seen in this embossed gold cup from the Tang Dynasty 唐. It is decorated with eight persons, musicians and dancers.
Golden cup, Tang Less crude and with applied filigree ornaments and pearls, an other Tang Dynasty cup.
Golden dragons, Tang This wunderfully cast and slightly embossed dragons of red gold were made during the Tang Dynasty (height only 2-3 cm). Every single piece shows a different movement.
Golden bowl, Tang Embossed gold bowl from the Tang Dynasty. The pattern has the shape of lotus petals, showing the influence of Buddhism also in decorating handicraft items.
Miniature shrine in silver and gold, Tang A miniature shrine with precious stones inlaid in the base and upon the roof, the body made of gold, silver and bronze during the Tang Dynasty.
Golden plate, Tang This golden chased dish from the Tang Dynasty shows dragons and fish coming out of the surface (47 cm diameter).
Silver hairpin, Tang A spangled hair pin from the Tang Dynasty. Compared to the piece from the Northern Dynasties, it shows a development in refining.
Silver candle holder in tortoise shape, Tang A tortoise made of silver and fine gold upon whose back a metal candleholder is mounted. The candle's upper part is formed like a real candle with a flame and can be taken off to put in a real candle. A tasteful example of Tang time goldsmith's art (34 cm tall). It resembles some stone pillars in the famous "stele forests" that are found everywhere in China.
Silver cup, Tang This silver cup from the Tang Dynasty shows scenes of dancing and hunting on its eight areas.
Silver incense burner, Tang A silver incense burner from the Tang Dynasty.
Golden garuda bird, Dali Dali 大理 was a realm in the modern province of Yunnan. Its art has much common with that of its southern neighbors Laos and Birma. This silver core gilded specimen is a picture of the Hindu mythical bird Garuda. The flames behind the bird are ornamented with five rock crystals (18 cm tall).
Devotional item in the shape of a stupa, Dali Composed of five different metals, this praying set from Dali copies the shape of a buddhist stupa or mynah (shelita 舍利塔) and can be taken away as a pocket altar.
Silver plate, Song The influence of Islamic art can be seen in this dish from the Song Dynasty 宋 (diameter 17 cm)...
Silver plate, Song ... while this dish shows the typical Chinese motif of dragons and fish playing in the water.
Round silver box, Song A Song Dynasty silver case, made of woven wires (yinsi 銀絲).
Silver bowl with pearls, Song The producer of this bowl from the Song Dynasty decorated with pearls used the old nipple-nail pattern to decorate his work.
Silver pot, Liao The Khitan people that founded the Liao Dynasty 遼 had much contact to the Central Asian islamic people and adopted their style in the art, like in this silver pot.
Silver hairpin, Yuan A very crude silver hairpin from the Yuan Dynasty 元.
Silver boxes, Yuan A typical feature of many Chinese daily used handicraft is the box-in-the-box principle like this beautiful set of big and small silver boxes from the Yuan Dynasty.
Round silver box, Yuan From Song times on, this new pattern of intertwined clouds, waves or dragon bodies became very popular, especially used to decorate boxes like this round Yuan dynasty box.
Golden hairpin, Ming Highest perfection of goldsmith's art: a very filigree hairpin from the Ming Dynasty 明 (22 cm long).
Golden hairpin, Ming The upper part of this golden hairpin from the Ming Dynasty is shaped like a leaf and inlaid with precious stones.
Golden cup, Ming Like many items of Ming and Qing art, this golden jue 爵 vessel on a dish is very overloaded with precious stones.
Golden empress crown, Ming A Ming empress was the owner of this gaze-like crown, made of gold wires (24 cm tall).
Golden armillary sphere, Qing The feet of this armillary sphere (celestial globe) are made from intertwined gold dragons, the base is partially made of cloisonné, and more than 3000 black and white pearls shape the particular constellations inside the golden heaven of this spectacular piece of Qing 清 emperor patronage (height 30 cm).
Golden brooch with precious stones, Qing The wings of this Qing butterfly-shaped brooch are composed of different precious stones.
Golden Guanyin Bodhisattva, Qing A statue of the meditating Guanyin 觀音 Bodhisattva, cast in gold and holding a wooden rosary in his/her hand.
Golden hairpins, Qing Hairpins inlaid with different stones from the Qing Dynasty.
Jade bowl with gold cover and gold stand, Qing This wonderful combination of a bowl on a high stand is made of two different materials. Stand and cover are made of gold, the bowl itself of jade. Cut turquois stones are inlaid in cover and stand. The inner surface of the bowl is engraved with a text in Tibetian. This shows the presence of Tibetian monks and diplomats at the Qing court in Beijing.
Golden pot in gourd shape, Qing Chinese art oftenly uses the shape of the gourd, in most cases for chinaware vases and here, for a pot with handle. The golden chased pot from the Qing Dynasty is inlaid with precious stones.
Gold miniature pagoda, Qing In old China, religion was never a matter of wars like in Europe. Ancestor worship, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity and Islam could exist side by side and were respected at the Qing court. Qing goldsmiths created this two floor gold wire pagoda with a Buddha image inside (23 cm tall)
Gold tree in penjing pot, Qing A penjing 盆景, a kind of bonsai-like landscape in a pot. In most cases, this landscapes are made of stone like jade or soapstone and have the shape of a mountain. This penjing is a palm tree, minutiously chased of gold filagree.
Gold ruyi scepter, Qing A ruyi 如意 scepter of solid gold. The scepter in China had not the same meaning like in Europe where it was exclusively used by the sovereign. Originally it could have been a note table of bamboo for the ministers that they held respectfully in their hands in front of the breast during an audience, like the gui 圭. In later times, it was made of each possible material but mostly of jade, a stone that symbolizes longevity. The shape of the scepter is taken from a kind of mythological mushroom that was said to give eternal life. In Qing times, the ruyi scepter was used by princes and the Emperor as a symbol of their position.
Email image with gold inlays, Qing A poem, the fullmoon and an osmanthus constituate this wonderful composition of a night sky picture. Leaves and flowers are equally detailed like the grass and the stones on the ground (heigt 163 cm).
Gold spitoon, Palace Museum, Qing A golden spittoon on a small table from the old palace in Peking.
Silver bowl from Yunnan, Qing This embossed silver bowl was made in Yunnan.
Silver vase made from silver wires, Qing Dozens of silver wires (yin leisi 銀纍絲) unite to petals that are bound together in the upper part, thus shaping a flower vase (17 cm tall).

  © 2000 ff · Ulrich Theobald · Mail