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A VERY RARE GOLD HEADDRESS
A VERY RARE GOLD HEADDRESS
A VERY RARE GOLD HEADDRESS
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A VERY RARE GOLD HEADDRESS

7TH-9TH CENTURY

Details
A VERY RARE GOLD HEADDRESS
7TH-9TH CENTURY
The semi-circular headdress is cast at each end in repoussé with a galloping horse with small antlers and flowing mane above two circular loops pendent from the lower edge and another in front of the mouth. Between the two horses is a band of floral diaper pattern centered by a large, repoussé rosette, and on the reverse are six small horizontal tubes below the upper edge.
12 ¼ in. (31 cm.) wide; weight 107.3 g; leather box
Provenance
Dr. Friedrich Perzynski Collection, Rissen/Holstein, Germany, before 1929.
Paul Cassirer/Hugo Helbing Berlin, Chinesische Goldgegenstände und Textilien aus dem Besitze von Dr. Friedrich Perzynski, Rissen-Holstein, 15 May 1929, lot 11.
Dr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967) Collection, Sweden, before 1953, no. CK42.
Sotheby's London, Masterpieces of Chinese Precious Metalwork. Early Gold and Silver. 14 May 2008, lot 90.
Literature
Bo Gyllensvärd, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, Stockholm, 1953, cat. no. 42.
Bo Gyllensvärd, ‘T’ang Gold and Silver’, Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, No. 29, Stockholm, 1957, figs. 41a, 53d and 87e.
Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, The Museum of Art and Far Eastern Antiquities in Ulricehamn, Ulricehamn, 1999, pl. 40.
Exhibited
Berlin, Preussische Akademie der Ku¨nste und Gesellschaft fu¨r Ostasiatische Kunst, Chinesische Kunst, 1929, cat. no. 432.
Copenhagen, Dansk Kunstindustrimuseum, Kinas Kunst i Svensk og Dansk eje, 1950, cat. no. 172.
Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution, Chinese Gold and Silver in the Carl Kempe Collection, 1954-55, cat. no. 42.
New York, Asia House Gallery, Chinese Gold, Silver and Porcelain. The Kempe Collection, 1971, cat. no.17, an exhibition touring the United States and shown also at nine other museums.

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Olivia Hamilton (高麗娜)
Olivia Hamilton (高麗娜) Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

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Lot Essay

The decorative motifs of this very rare gold headdress are representative of the cultural exchanges that informed the art of the nomadic peoples of the northern steppes during the Tang-dynasty period. The influences came from not only Central Asia and South Asia, but also the Tang empire and the nomads themselves, with their focus on horses and the other animals with which they were familiar.

The nomadic reliance on horses is reflected in the depiction of the horses that decorate each end of the headdress. They are shown not only in a gallop but almost as if flying, their speed implied by the position of the legs, the wind-blown manes, the open mouths and their intense expressions. There is also something mythical about their representation, which includes the small flames on the sides and the small antler-like horns. Winged horses with bifurcated horns are included with other mythical winged animals depicted on the gold saddle fittings illustrated by Jenny F. So, Radiant Legacy: Ancient Chinese Gold from the Mengdiexuan Collection, vol. II, Hong Kong, 2013, pp. 40-49, where the fittings are dated 7th-9th century. Like the present headdress the fittings are gold sheet worked in repoussé.

The diaper pattern that decorates the band between the horses and the central rosette most likely shows the artistic influence of Tang-dynasty China and imitates woven fabric with alternating ring-punched and stippled grounds. It is also very possible that the rosette was originally inlaid in the center, possibly with turquoise. The loops at the ends were for the attachment of cords to secure the headdress and the loops at the bottom edge and the small tubes on the reverse for the attachment of various decorative elements.

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