Hair ornament with kingfisher feathers and floral motifs

A band-shaped kingfisher-feather headdress ornament with floral and insect motifs, inlaid with pink quartz stones.

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 19th-first half of 20th century
Kingfisher feather, metal, glass
H x W x D: 13 x 6.5 x 2.4 cm (5 1/8 x 2 9/16 x 15/16 in)
Credit Line
The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; a joint gift of The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Paul Singer, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and the Children of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jewelry and Ornament


black and white inlay, China, flower, gilding, inlay, insect, kingfisher, Paul Singer collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), twisted wire, wirework
Provenance research underway.

A band-shaped kingfisher-feather headdress ornament with floral and insect motifs, inlaid with pink quartz stones.


This barrette-shaped bar would have been one of many similar ornaments secured to a headdress made of a metal framework covered by black gauze. The brilliant blue is the natural color of feathers from the kingfisher bird, which is native to some parts of China and other areas of Asia. These feathers were chosen to make jewelry because of their dazzling visual appeal.

Published References
  • Beverley Jackson. Kingfisher Blue: Treasure of an Ancient Chinese Art. Berkeley and Toronto. .
  • Scientific Research in the Field of Asian Art: Proceedings of the First Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art. London. pp. 15-23, pl. 3.
  • , Ellen Chase, Blythe McCarthy. The Textile Speciality Group Postprints: Papers Delivered at the Textile Subgroup Session, a Joint Session with the Objects Speciality Group Concerning Composite Objects. vol. 12 Washington, June 2002. pp. 45-55.
  • Roland Hartman. Kingfisher Feather Jewelry. vol. 10, no. 3 Hong Kong, May - June 1980. pp. 75-81.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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