Single-prong hairpin in the form of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly

Single-prong kingfisher-feather hairpin (zan 簪) in the shape of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly.

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Possibly Tongzhi reign, Late 19th - early 20th century
Kingfisher feather, metal, silk, glass, and paper.
H x W x D (overall): 19 x 14.5 x 1.8 cm (7 1/2 x 5 11/16 x 11/16 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
Paul Singer collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jewelry and Ornament


butterfly, caterpillar, China, coiled wire, inlay, kingfisher, Paul Singer collection, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), Tongzhi reign (1862 - 1874), twisted wire, wirework, WWII-era provenance

To 1997
Paul Singer (1904-1997), Summit, New Jersey [1]

From 1997
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, bequeathed by Paul Singer [2]


[1] The collection of Chinese art and antiquities assembled by Paul Singer over time was purchased by him on behalf of Arthur M. Sackler, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities, and later transferred to the children of Arthur M. Sackler.

[2] Upon Paul Singer’s death in January 1997, his collection was transferred to the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery by order of the Executors of the Estate under a loan agreement signed on February 1997. Shortly thereafter, the Sackler Gallery was vested with full ownership and title to the collection in full agreement by the Sackler Foundations and Sackler family members. In 2011 the object was accessioned to the Sackler Gallery collection.

Previous Owner(s)

Dr. Paul Singer 1904-1997
Dr. Carol Master born 1941
Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler born 1948
Arthur F. Sackler born 1950
Denise Marika born 1955
Arthur M. Sackler Foundation founded 1965
AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities founded 1981


Single-prong kingfisher-feather hairpin (zan 簪) in the shape of a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly.

Published References
  • Scientific Research in the Field of Asian Art: Proceedings of the First Forbes Symposium at the Freer Gallery of Art. London. pp. 15-23, figs. 7-8.
  • 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.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum