Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Utilitarian but beautiful....

The Chinese made jadeworks not only for decorative or ornamental purposes. They also made utilitarian objects with jade such as the two beautiful white jade earpicks I show below:

The longer one on the left has floral carvings while the shorter one has one end decorated with a bee motiff. Both have a well shaped scoop end for the earpicking function. They are likely to be from the Ming-Qing period.

According to some sources, earpicks serve dual functions that is they can be used as headpin cum earpick. So I guess ancient ladies stuck these elegant earpicks on to their equally elegant hairbuns or coiffure and when they need to, they would just tweak it off and clean their ears. Doesn't sound so ladylike to me and surprising for those distant times when ladies were delicate beings who moved around with bound feet. But perhaps they only did their ear cleansing rituals in their private chambers ?

IMPO, the scoop of the shorter earpick seems a tad large for putting into the ear. It would surely cause some damage, I would hestitate to put it into my ear ! So, perhaps its really just a beautiful ornament.

Or is it for scooping snuff ? But did ladies use snuff.....these ornaments look feminine to me ....

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  • The Uncommon Reader
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  • Never Let me go
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  • Where angels fear to tread