Fantasy in the Hair

shining and elegant, but real and concrete.

Every time I visited history museums in my homeland, China, I spent so much time in front of the glass cases, obsessed with the hairpins (簪钗) and other hair ornaments amassed inside. 

I love the hairpins and the aspect of my country’s history they reveal to me—something shining and elegant, but real and concrete. They seem so delicate but have remained as new after being covered by the dust of thousands of years.

This exhibit is a selection of hairpin design and photographing I made on and off from my middle school up till now—around seven years already. While I never consciously keep the style of the works and photos consistent, it stayed the same so naturally for such a long time, during which I, in contrast, grew and changed a lot. 

I regard this as a perfect parallel to the conservation of style on a grander scale: the creations I make today share the same unique kind of feeling of beauty as those lying in the museum’s glass cases, created so many years ago, even if the craft skills change dramatically, even if the traditional golden rules of configurations (for example, the co-appearance of butterflies and flowers) are not followed.

There is something timeless—the echoes of Chinese classical aesthetics.

The Golden Cage (樊笼)
Brass, pearl, glaze/glass

The Heart of Autumn (秋心)
Brass, shell, glaze/glass

Vermillion (朱砂)
Brass, pearl, shell, agate, glaze/glass

Full Moon (既望)
Brass, shell, pearl, fluorite, rose quartz

Vine (蔓生)
Brass, pearl, shell, glaze/glass

Eclipse (月蚀)
Brass, rose quartz, pearl, glaze/glass

A Moonlit Night Among Flowers (花月夜)
Brass, shell, fluorite

Mid-Spring (仲春)
Brass, agate, shell

Mirage (蜃)
Brass, shell, fluorite

Yuan Pu (浦媛) is a second year undergraduate student at Brown, a Sc.B computational biology candidate with an interest in neuroscience and genetics.

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