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Lot 326. A pair of gemstone-inset gold earrings, erhuanMing dynasty; 1 1/2in (3.8cm) long excluding pin (2)Estimate US$ 5,000 - 7,000 (€ 4,200 - 5,900). © Bonhams 2001-2020

The lavish pendant of each earring modeled with two plum flower heads below a butterfly-shaped design to the front and reverse, and paired by intricate tubes enmeshed with thin wires, each flower head and the butterfly adorned with a central ruby cabochon set within a high collar, the top surmounted with a long, elaborately curved pin rising between a pair of flanking leaves.

Note : Long wire pins and elaborate, layered gold work with sumptuous precious stone inlays are characteristic of Ming dynasty jewelry and was a style favored by the Ming Imperial Family. Similar examples were found in the Mausoleum of Ding Ling according to Zhong Guo (Beijing: 1989), pl. 126.

The combination of a butterfly or a bee and flower blossoms on gemstone-inlaid jewelry belongs to a distinctive motif common during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, called feng die gan hua (bee and butterfly chasing flowers). For more information related to this prototype, refer to Zhongguo Gudai Jinyin Shoushi by Yang Zhishui (Beijing: Gugong, 2014), vol. 2, p612-614.

For detailed treatment and workmanship similar to the present pair of earrings, compare a gemstone-inlaid gold hairpin illustrated in The Golden China, Gold Artifacts of Ancient China, (Nanjing: Nanjing Museum, 2013), p. 330, p. 333, and p.345.

Bonhams. Elegant Embellishments Featuring the RenLu Collection, 21 Sep 2020, 10:00 EDT, New York