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Phoenix Head-shaped Bone Hairpin
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2022.12.06 08:57:40

Period: Shang dynasty (1600--1046 BCE)
Measurements: L. 13 cm
Provenance: From Anyang of Henan in 1954

Overall, the object is slender prolong conical in shape, with a polished pointed end, and a slightly flat phoenix-shaped head.

Bone hairpins were frequently discovered from the early Neolithic sites, and they are mostly similar in shape, in the forms of conoid, ellipse, or flat conoid, with a round blunt end, the top end carved with patterns or drilled with a hole. In the wake of the advent of the Shang bronze implements, the artisans were able to deploy more complicate craftsmanship on bones, which resulted in more exquisite bone wares. 

In the long history of China, the types of hairpin evolved from bone in the earliest time into various forms such as gold, bronze, silver, wood, etc. They not only served as the symbols of wealth and status, but also enriched the cultural connotation of China. Li Ji (Book of Rites, one of the Five Classics of Chinese Confucian literature), mentions in chapter Nei Ze (The Pattern of the Family) that, a ceremony of pinning up her hair with hairpin when a girl turns 15, which means that a girl being in engagement turns 15, a female from the eldership should conduct a ceremony for the girl by making a chignon which was pinned up by a hairpin, indicating the end of her maidenhood and entering adulthood, could get married.