Important Chinese Art

Important Chinese Art

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 261. A rare and important gilt-silver filigree 'phoenix' crown, Liao dynasty | 遼 銀鎏金鏤空鳳鳥紋冠.

Property from the Collection of Abolala Soudavar

A rare and important gilt-silver filigree 'phoenix' crown, Liao dynasty | 遼 銀鎏金鏤空鳳鳥紋冠

Auction Closed

September 21, 06:54 PM GMT


150,000 - 200,000 USD

Lot Details


A rare and important gilt-silver filigree 'phoenix' crown

Liao dynasty

遼 銀鎏金鏤空鳳鳥紋冠

Height 12 in., 30.4 cm 

Gisèle Croës, Brussels, 2005.


This dazzling and lavish crown is distinguished by its complex, sculptural form and extraordinarily fine openwork. The striking silhouette is created by overlapping thinly hammered, ruyi-shaped gilt-silver plates of various heights. The intricate coin designs were sensitively and painstakingly cut out from the metal sheets. The finial, in the form of a phoenix spreading its wings up high, is also uncommon. This crown is a testimony of the technical perfection achieved in gilt metalwork during the Liao dynasty (907-1125).

See two closely related Liao dynasty crowns of similar sculptural form and delicate openwork, one in the Mengdiexuan Collection, exhibited in Adornment for the Body and Soul: Ancient Chinese Ornaments from the Mengdiexuan Collection, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, 1999, cat. no. 92, the other in the Gansu Provincial Museum, Lanzhou, illustrated in Jia Xizeng, 'Liao dai jin guan [Liao Dynasty Gilt Crowns]', Zijincheng, November 2011, fig. 3-2. Similar to the present lot, both crowns are topped in the center with finials in the form of a phoenix spreading its wings. Compare also two in the Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot, similarly structured with overlapping cloud-shaped openwork plates but lacking phoenix finials, illustrated in ibid., figs 3-4 and 3-5. As Jia suggests, during the Liao dynasty, these crowns were solely reserved for the court and the royal family during important ritual rites, ceremonies and funerary practices, attesting to the historical importance of these elaborate headdresses (see ibid., pp 96-113). 

For further related examples, compare a pair of gilt-silver crowns excavated in 1986 from the tomb of the Princess and Prince Consort of the State of Chen (c. 1018), now in the Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Inner Mongolia, Hohhot, and illustrated in Zhang Jingming, Zhongguo beifang caoyuan gudai jinyin qi / The Ancient Gold and Silver Wares from the Northern Steppe of China, Beijing, 2005, pls 121-2. One crown, mounted with twenty-two individual small roundels of phoenixes, birds, parrots and flames on cloud-shaped metal sheets, was placed next to the Prince Consort. Compare also another pair of headdresses in the Musée Cernuschi, Paris (accession nos M.C. 2001-8 and M.C. 2001-5), one of related form to the present piece and constructed by combining scallop-edged openwork panels. 

The dating of this lot is consistent with the results of Laboratoires Serma microanalyses test no. SE 70-OA.

本品斷代與 Serma 實驗室微量分析測試(編號SE70-OA)結果一致