Xuande incised marks and of the period, dated 1428 Each beautifully and identically cast in gold, the lengthy shaft slowly converging to a pointed tip, each with finely incised kaishu dated inscription, all issuing from a mushroom cap in the form of a hexagonal-lobed petalled flower. 14.5cm long. (2).
The inscription reads and literally translates as:
"To accompany and for Imperial use, made by the silversmith of the Imperial workshop, dated twelfth month, third year of Xuande period (1428), of ninety percent pure gold, weighing eight qian"
The characters suijia was the term used to mark Imperial objects which travelled with the Imperial family, which in this case suggests it followed the Xuande Emperor between his palaces in Beijing and Nanjing.
It is recorded in Ming Shi or 'History of Ming' by Qing dynasty historian Zhang Tingyu (29 October 1672 30 April 1755), that the silversmith or yinzuoju is one of eight palace workshops established during the thirtieth year of Hongwu reign (1398) under one of the twenty-four official ministries, primarily crafting gold and silver coins and ornaments. Each workshop was under the order of a eunuch with independent administrative staff including scribes, supervisors and workmen.
For a similar example of a pair of gold hairpins excavated from archaeological sites, see Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series. Gold and Silver Wares, Beijing, 2004, p.74, nos.42-43. The mentioned example is each crafted with phoenix atop cloud scrolls with incised Yongle inscription stating the purity and weight of the gold. For other examples dated to the Xuande period, see see Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series. Gold and Silver Wares, Beijing, 2004, pp.77-78, nos. 46-50. The mentioned examples include a gold ladle dated to the sixth year of Xuande period (1430), and a gold zun dated to the ninth year of Xuande period (1433). Both examples have similar incised unbalanced scripts and are archaeological examples excavated from the burial tombs of Imperial concubines.
For a Xuande period gold vessel sold at auction, see a tripod vessel and cover, formerly in the collections of George Eumorfopoulos and Dr. Carl Kempe, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 11 April 2008, lot 2325.
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