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Chinese Ethnic Silver Necklaces

Many years ago when I first became enchanted with the world of Chinese personal ornaments, I stumbled across an Australian dealer who was selling Chinese ethnic necklaces that I had never seen before…

0041a …huge and dramatic with styles that ranged from baroque elaboration to a modernistic simplicity … and since I am a ‘magpie’ that can not resist shiny things… I bought several pieces to hang on the wall as art… then I had to collect a few more… of course!


These large necklaces (many are over 18” in diameter and weighing well over a pound) are also called torques. They have been popular in China since the Tang Dynasty ( A.D. 618. – A.D. 907)… and remain popular today with many of Southwestern China’s ethnic minority  groups… Miao (Mong/Hmong, Dong, Zhuang, Li and others.)


In 2006, the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam presented a major exhibit of Chinese ethnic minority silver and textiles. A wonderful book was produced with the exhibit: The Art of Silver Jewelry: From the minorities of China, The Golden Triangle, Mongolia and Tibet … copies are still available on Amazon. The book has many photos and explains in detail the stylistic differences in the work of the various ethnic minorities.

0041I have always been interested in the relationship between these necklaces and 20th century modern art. This torque has always been my favorite… it reminds me of the jewelry made by Alexander Calder towards the end of his career… continuous wire with no solder joints.

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos… many in larger formats.

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One Comment

  1. Anonymous
    Posted July 27, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    A friend has a similar piece (torques) she bought at aution several years ago. Its has carvings of doves and dragons on it along with 9 hanging spirals. She has to sell it now and has no idea what it is worth. The woman who owned it before says it is a wedding chaplet and over 300 years old. Can you give me some idea what it might be worth?
    Thank you.

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