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Phoenix Crown
Phoenix Crown
Ethnological Museum

Crown of a high level of craftsmanship, probably produced in one of the “Three factories of the area of Jiangnan”, Jiangnan sanzhi, the governmental factories of Jiangning (Nanjing), Suzhou, and Hanzhou, under the direct control of the Office of the Imperial House.
For centuries the Chinese have used, for intarsia, the iridescent blue plumage of the kingfisher to decorate female headdresses, military helmets and large size objects such as screens. This crown arrived in the Vatican on the occasion of the Great Exposition arranged at the behest of Pope Pius XI in 1925. A valuable object and fine example of artistic craftsmanship, it demonstrates the great technical ability of artisans of the Qing epoch (1644-1911). The refined ornament, known as the “phoenix crown”, it formed part of the official dress of women of the imperial court. It has a decorative theme based on the repetition of dragon and phoenix animal motifs, developed around a central element in the shape of a pavilion, under which there emerges a larger dragon depicted frontally with its reptilian body coiled around a silver pearl. On the sides of the pavilion there is an inscription in Chinese characters.
Decorative motifs are often inspired by the animal and vegetable worlds, combined together, and drawn from the traditional figurative repertoire with auspicious meanings.