Unknown Artist, ‘Gold Leisi Filigree Hairpin with Lotus and Shen Instrument Design and Precious Stone Inlay’, Qing dynasty (1644–1912), Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong

The filigree hairpin heads comprise lotuses with buds, leaves and pods, having inlays of pearls and gems, beading edges and ribbed veins. In addition to the vegetative motifs, there is a sheng (mouth organ) with a beetle-like insect next to it. All the components are attached to gold wires and bundled together. The Lian (lotus) and Sheng form a pun for “consecutive promotions”. The beetle is a symbol for riches. The design, therefore, bequeaths a promising and lucrative career as an official.

About Unknown Artist