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Chinese Qing dynasty necklace
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Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 10:30:08

Hi everyone,

I bought this Chinese necklace for next to nothing on eBay a while back, but I just got round to taking some pictures of it yesterday. I understand why nobody else was interested in it, because it’s in quite poor condition – the silk tassels seem to disintegrate as I breathe on it – but in fact there are some very interesting things on it, I think.

It’s Qing dynasty, eighteenth or nineteenth century, I would guess, and presumably a “court necklace.” Not for the imperial court in Beijing, but perhaps for a provincial vice-regal court, or even for official occasions at a magistrate’s residence in a regional city. There are 98 beads on it now, and 98 is quite an auspicious number in itself, but I imagine there may possibly have been ten more on a subsidiary strand to make up the 108 required for a Buddhist prayer necklace. There’s a wide variety of different materials; wound moochrome glass in different colours and qualities; larger yellow crumb beads; seeds and pits, both simulated and real, carved and in their natural state; wood; coral; and lacquer.

It’s the lacquer really that interests me most since there’s virtually no mention of lacquer beads in any of the obvious books (Francis, Liu, Dubin, Lankton), or here in previous posts on this forum – which surprises me, since it’s a material that was used for so many purposes in China, Japan, Burma and Vietnam. Here there are two kinds of lacquer beads: nine two-faced beads, in both red lacquer and yellow, with a Buddha on one side and a demon on the other; and five with a scroll pattern which derives originally from archaic bronze. This deeply-carved scroll pattern was very popular in Yuan and Ming times, and that makes me wonder if these beads might date from quite early in the Qing dynasty, perhaps even the late seventeenth century. The most likely way of getting a fix on the date would be if there were any definite date for the crumb beads. I’ve never heard of these before the nineteenth century, and I haven’t yet read Yang Boda’s writing on Qing glass, but from the rest of his writing that I know, I doubt if he’s much interested in beads, anyway. Some of the face beads are damaged, and one can see how the lacquer has been applied over a drilled wood core; I would guess that such a thickness of wood has prevented the lacquer from “breathing” properly – which might explain why it has chipped so much.

Actually, I’m not sure about some of the organic materials here. People in the Qing period valued simulated materials highly, sometimes more highly than the originals they were imitating, and some of the pits and wood beads may actually be lacquer also. I know nothing about coral, I’m afraid, and it even occurs to me that some of the coral beads may possibly be dyed bone??

Sorry that some of the pictures show a lot of dust; it’s all so fragile, I’m afraid to do much cleaning (excuses, excuses – I never clean anything!)

Will

CH7.106b.jpg (72.6 KB)  


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Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 10:39:56

Two-faced (Janus-headed) lacquer Buddha and demon.

CH7.106d.jpg (46.2 KB)  CH7.106e.jpg (40.8 KB)  


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Similar heads
Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
11/17/2008, 12:55:00

these appear to be similar to your heads, I will try to get better pictures

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Re: Similar heads
Re: Similar heads -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 15:18:54

Hi Thomas,

Yes, very similar in style, though these appear to be a much thinner lacquer layer over - what? - terracotta? Where are they from?

Will



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clueless, but here are more pictures
Re: Re: Similar heads -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
11/17/2008, 18:30:53

Sorry I can't help, the center head is a pendant which I found separate from the other 2 beads, the center head almost looks like it could be plastic with mold lines,

DSC03106.jpg (121.9 KB)  DSC03105.jpg (75.3 KB)  


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Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 10:42:43

Damaged demon and scroll-pattern bead imitating bronze:

CH7.106f.jpg (39.6 KB)  CH7.106g.jpg (42.2 KB)  


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Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 10:47:21

Is it coral? What's the earliest date for these crumb beads (they're about 2 centimetres in diameter)?

CH7.106c.jpg (50.2 KB)  CH7.106h.jpg (35.7 KB)  


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PS and a question
Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 10:54:22

I forgot to mention the grey stone beads - not agate, I think.

And a question: what do you think I should do with it? It's too damaged to restore it. Should I keep it as is? Or should I take out the damaged beads and make a new necklace with the remainder? Or should I separate out the lacquer beads since they are seemingly quite rare and most easily damaged?

What would you do?

Will



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The 'crumb' bead
Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Snap Post Reply
11/17/2008, 11:37:38

Hi Will,

Some similar to this have been posted before in strands, monochrome rather than multi-color cumbs. They share a peculiar 'flat' look. Search the archive for 'malachite' and you will find the thread.

Meanwhile here are handy samples of that type.

Best wishes,
Snap

green.jpg (65.6 KB)  rose.jpg (64.2 KB)  


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Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace/Coral Bead answer
Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: lopacki Post Reply
11/17/2008, 15:36:41

Will,
As a person that spent nine months in a two year period in the PRC mostly in a rural environment in the late eighties and also having many many trips to the PRC since on business I need to point out to you that the Chinese pride themselves on their skills in making “Old Stuff” whether egg shell porcelain ..... beautiful ceramic sculptural Ming period pieces ........ the finest ancient bronze and even items as common as beads. Rural Chinese make little to no money so if someone can make a few Yuan on the side making carved beads and such they will do it even if there is very little money ............. little is better than nothing.

I will say it again they pride themselves in being able to reproduce ancient items that will fool all but the most expert and many times even the experts have been fooled.

This said I’m going to give my two cents regarding the Coral beads and NONE of the other beads, that’s up to the other people on this thread that know far more than I do regarding most beads I see posted. From the image it looks like it has been dipped into paraffin and also looks like its been dyed, both these methods are common on some items the Chinese make to look as if they were old. If you take a little acetone on a kleenex and rub the coral I expect that you will see red on the kleenex. If you heat a straight pin tip to red and touch it to the Coral you will either get the smell of a candle or you might get a plastic smell .......... Give it a try and report back to all of us on this thread.

All my best Danny

P.S. I love the Chinese and their culture I spent years reading about and interacting with them, even learned enough Mandarin to get me in trouble. I have been blessed in all my activities with them and perhaps the best lessons came to me from a negative experience but all things good and bad have made me a much wiser person when it comes to human nature... Gotta love it!!



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Re: Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace/Coral Bead answer
Re: Re: Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace/Coral Bead answer -- lopacki Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 20:25:21

Hi Danny,

Thanks for your sage advice. I lived in China and Hong Kong for ten years, so I certainly know what you're talking about. My own primary expertise is in early Chinese ceramics up to the end of the Song dynasty - I collect them myself and also supply them to several university and institutional collections - and there are some kiln wares (especially Yueyao and Junyao) that I won't even touch any longer without very sure provenance, because the best fakes have gotten so good. There's nothing new about that: Avery Brundage's world-class collection of jade contained many items that were subsequently recognised to be later copies, and Zhang Daqian, the greatest Chinese painter of the twentieth century was also acknowledged to be the foremost forger of his day!

Just this year when I was staying in Shanghai, I had dinner with an anxious French wine expert who was investigating the production of fake grand cru wines. The bottles, labels, corks were all absolutely perfect, but the wine tasted like the so-called "chianti" that I used to binge on as a kid (does anyone remember those lovely raffia protective baskets?).

I don't think these beads, however, even if they are Chinese, are fakes. I still have doubts about the "coral" but they passed your tests. All that came off with acetone was lots of dirt, and all that got burned was my thumb. I wouldn't last long in Art's workshop, I fear!

All the best,

Will



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Re: Chinese necklace
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Snap Post Reply
11/17/2008, 11:19:58

Will,

The lacquer beads are interesting, but I can't say I know anything about them. You could post them with good photos on the AsianArts forum, maybe Doug & Moira would know something about them. If you can count layers that might be helpful.

As you know, 'court' necklaces were mainly one type of bead with one or two other types at intervals, with two smaller offshoot strands, and a counterweight of varying sorts for the back of the neck. During the Qing dynasty the components were dictated by rank under sumptuary laws. I doubt such laws could have prescribed an assortment such as you show. Overall this appears to me like a compiled strand from many sources, rather than something that was originally made pretty much as you have it now. Is there fine knotting between the beads?

Some of these sorts of beads (especially the wound monochromes) I have seen on for-export 'sewing baskets' mentioned in the previous thread on the Japanese scroll weights. These are often various sizes, but I can lay my hands on some yellow, sky-blue, and bluish-green spheres around 12 mm in diameter, and transparent ovoids in bluish-green, pinkish-red (one has an internal thin black spiral, likely an imperfection) and greenish-yellow about 8 x 18 mm. There are also transparent blues and more opaque pink, even black, ones in other sizes. The cylindrical bits and tassels are also just the sort of thing seen on these 1920s+ items.

I don't know about those specific crumb beads. I agree that Yang Boda concentrated on vessels of fine glass! He was not much interested in beads, as you say, and actually I have seen no scholarly literature on Chinese beads of the late 19th and earlyish 20th century that specifies the types of beads made.

The silk could have been water-damaged or stored in an acidic environment. The lacquer does need care in a fairly humid environment, which would not be so good for carved or 'natural' peach pits!

In any event if you paid a low to moderate price for this, I hope it will be worth it as 'admission' to an interesting quest for more information.

Best wishes,
Snap



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Unfortunately, no.
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/17/2008, 12:21:49

Dear Will,

Unfortunately, what you have is a collection of beads that have been strung together by a previous owner. They are not all Chinese, since some are Japanese. It is certainly not a
"Court necklace." Since it has no integrity as an historical necklace, you can do with it whatever pleases you.

I'm on my way out the door, but I can try to answer specific material questions when I return, perhaps tomorrow.

Remember, very few actual Mandarin Court necklaces still exist. Many or most of the constructions so-repped are actually just made up from parts (in China) to be sold as authentic, though they are not.

I hope you are not disappointed.

Jamey



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Chinese/Japanese (!) necklace
Re: Unfortunately, no. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 13:09:36

Dear Snap and Jamey,

No, not disappointed at all. As I said, it was going very cheap and I bought it mainly to look at and find out about the lacquer beads. I put "court necklace" in quotes, because, as I said, I knew it obviously didn't follow the imperial Manchu regulations, which Chinese families were in any case reluctant to adhere to. But at the levels of the lower provincial nobility and administrative classes much wider ranges of materials from jade, pearls, turquoise and lapis to glass, amber, wood, ivory and ambergris were permissible.

But the fact that some of the beads are Japanese puts paid to that theory, doesn't it?! If you have time, Jamey, it would be helpful to know which ones they are. Also, your thoughts on the "coral", and what you know of the lacquer. Oh, yes, and the crumb beads also. I'm always surprised at how hard it is to find published information about these later Chinese beads.

Thank you both for your help,

Will



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'Crumb' types came in graduated necklaces, probably not Chinese
Re: Chinese/Japanese (!) necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Snap Post Reply
11/17/2008, 13:34:41



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fortunately
Re: Unfortunately, no. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: MRAKSCHI Post Reply
11/17/2008, 16:47:19

No Jamey, "we" are not! Actually we´re extremely happy. What could be more fun than hearing from the ultimate voice on Chinese mandarin necklaces?

For me it´s certainly not something like: "The bad guy is the one with the bad news". I have no f***** idea, why basically any of your posts leave me (kinda) angry. I do not want to do you any unjustice - really not!

The problem is I do not think and feel I do!

Is something wrong with me?



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There is CLEARLY something wrong with you.
Re: fortunately -- MRAKSCHI Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/18/2008, 12:31:48

I would appreciate it if you would desist from writing to me, or even reading my posts. I do not need the presumption, insults, paranoia, and waste of my time.

JDA.



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Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Paula Post Reply
11/17/2008, 15:58:00

I posted these photos a couple of years ago but I can't find the discussion in the archives. I recall it being suggested that they are not very old

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PS re: tassels, thanks to the Forum Archive again :D
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Snap Post Reply
11/17/2008, 15:59:21

Search for 'mauve', look for Paula / paeonia's post on 08/03/2006. She shows intact versions, doubtless quite new at that time.

Best wishes,
Snap



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Re: Oriental necklace
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Stefany Post Reply
11/17/2008, 16:33:14

Hello
Necklaces like this are very familiar to me. I've had several
I tend to think they are Japanese not Chinese, and may have been made specially for tourists of the early C20th.
They include various types of large-holed beads, mostly spherical, including lacquer with or without inlays, large spherical stone beads, large well-made glass with crumbs, or swirls to suggest malachite or agate, beads with relief designs in sealing wax over terracotta either patterns or double masks, some metal beads resembling ojime, knobbly "Rudraksha" style nuts, carved Ivory or bone. The "Coral" twig-like shapes are stained bone. Sometimes these strings include glass spherical beads of yellow with pink rounds added to look like "Hornbill" beads.
98 is divisible by 7 and the intact strands I've handled usually have a seeming random layout but in fact the sequence has several repeats. Your stringing is almost certainly original.
In fact I have written about these beads several times before though maybe not on this board. Fred our Ojime specialist can give even more helpful details.
(More forthcoming when I find where that correspondence is.)
Stefany



Modified by Stefany at Mon, Nov 17, 2008, 16:36:39

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Re: Re: Oriental necklace -PS the sequence...
Re: Re: Oriental necklace -- Stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Stefany Post Reply
11/17/2008, 16:47:55

I just looked back at the picture, and can confirm that every ten beads it repeats the sequence. so perhaps if there are now 98 beads then 2 have broken right off at some time.
We discussed them on Beads-L in the past, perhaps that's where you posted yours before, Paula? It may be hard to choose the right search term though!
I will accept they may be chinese only if Fred says so.
Another point is that they might have been more common in UK because oriental-looking nick-nacks were imported and sold in London department stores such as "Liberty" around the 1900's.
Stefany



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Chinese
Re: Chinese Qing dynasty necklace -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: MRAKSCHI Post Reply
11/17/2008, 16:39:43

Great find, Will!
Lucky "bas***d"...!
~J~

PS
I hope "Will" is not a woman, than I take 50% of my post back! The great find remains! I bet there are many reader now going "Holy sh*t - why idn´t I see it...?" I am certainly one of them!!



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Re: Necklace of indeterminate origin!
Re: Chinese -- MRAKSCHI Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
11/17/2008, 20:44:11

Thanks, Paula, Snap, Stefany and Juergen.

Paula, I searched for the discussion about your beads (I even searched "paula"!) but couldn't find it here, so Stefany is probably right and it was in another group. And Stefany, what you've been able to tell me already is really interesting, especially the possibility that the beads might have been together in this order from the start. If you find out more, please let me know. For some reason, they seemed Chinese and not Japanese to me. Why? Why does one wear these blinkers?

And no, Juergen, I'm not a woman - more's the pity, I sometimes think!

Cheers,

Will



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Blinkers?
Re: Re: Necklace of indeterminate origin! -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Stefany Post Reply
11/17/2008, 23:27:01

There are many of us, even here, who have researched much more widely than the favourite areas of trade beads and others from Africa or ancient Roman, Islamic, etc., and (in my personal opinion)these are much more fascinating just because they arent so popular. Such ones are also often cheap because they dont yet have a reputation for being valued.
While I admire Kiffas, powder glass, etc and collect some examples when I find them, I think even when made with so much attentive skill they are still only curious rather than beautiful, -but, OK, that's just my taste.
Stefany



Modified by Stefany at Mon, Nov 17, 2008, 23:40:05

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Blinker
Re: Blinkers? -- Stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: MRAKSCHI Post Reply
11/18/2008, 09:43:36

Hello all,
I too think the beads and the whole necklace the more, is of interest! I have never seen one and bet some money, that many others - except Jamey, who has possibly seen dozends, if not hundreds - haven´t neither! Isn´t that enough reason to be interested?

Yesterday (another thread)I said I usually see a "fake" or manipulations of a bead right away. That can´t be true for something from China - I know next to nothing about this area, when it comes to beads etc. - but still, I sensed something authentic, when seeing this necklaces for the first time, yesterday.

~J~


PS
Stefany,
nonononononono!!!!

Don´t jump on that (specific) Kiffa-train! Please!

I know I said something to a simelar effect just recently, but, frankly, when reading this from you today (or anybody), I have to defend female Mauritanian beamakers. And my own feeling for aestetics!
I say with ADENAUER: "why should I feel responsible for the BS I said yesterday!"

It is not fair to call Mauritanian "Mouarghad" (>The Colorful)or their designs just curious, and, at the same time, rip off their label as being one of the most beautiful beads in existance!

How to explain this? Precise and short?

33% of "Kiffas" are not well made
33% are avarage
24% are WONDERFUL, but
10% are just breathtaking

With a small K-collection - something I assume most of you have - the real beauty of this class of beads is not really, cannot be really visible. Only when seeing 30, 40, 50, 100 AAA-class Mouarghad at once, the full BEAUTY of this incredible specimen gets obvious. Another problem is that many people have a hard time to make a difference between low quality-, avarage quality- and the BEST "Kiffas" around!

Maybe Thomas - the man with the BEST K-collection on this planet - is willing to teach us and can show photos of some 2-3 beads per class (see above).

You are right, Stefany, there is more to them than just their wonderful designs, though, I fear, one has to go to their "Hinterhomeland" to see and (really) understand! It´s a miracle, that´s what they really are!
And possibly one of the very few real one-of-a-kind beads also. But there is so much more - soooo much more to them! Things we cannot really see with our two eyes!

Best to my Flower-Power girl from swinging-again London.


To Art-S,
it´s not forgotton!

I`ll definitely return to the discussion on BEAUTY. I´ve already deleted a few versions of my planned post. It a difficult subject - not as easy as it seems and as easy as I first thought. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" may be one legitimate standpoint, but it´s neither the only nor the best one, I say! Read "KANT" on the subject? You made me do exactly this. I got that book out, I hadn´t touched in at least 20 years, or so.



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The price of being ugly?
Re: Blinker -- MRAKSCHI Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: bob Post Reply
11/18/2008, 10:30:47

In life, like with beads - your viewpoint depends on which facet you happen to see.

It occurred to me there may be a Price for Beauty also???

"Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya
Oh Lord, kumbaya"


Related link: The price of being ugly........

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The price of being human
Re: The price of being ugly? -- bob Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: MRAKSCHI Post Reply
11/18/2008, 19:40:23

Smiling...!

Funny link!
~J~



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CLEARLY there is a price........
Re: The price of being human -- MRAKSCHI Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: bob Post Reply
11/19/2008, 07:29:06

Some of your posts are quite clever and entertaining!


I am just not sure about you though?

No posted resume, you haven't studied beads for 25 years and still can't spell "Muracad" correctly?

I ask you - how important could you be???

Why should we take YOU seriously just because your happy!

Serious doubts here...........

Sorry J


My Best // Harry J. Primate

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Modified by bob at Wed, Nov 19, 2008, 07:32:03

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