I was derping and found some absolutely stunning kingfisher inlay. I remeber totally getting sidetracked by it when I supposed to be researching something elese back in the day.
Each piece is inlaid with kingfisher feathers and ‘beads’ of coloured glass. They are attached to a silver backing and are decorated with (probably) imitation pearls.
The use of kingfisher feathers in Chinese ornaments has a long history but very often because of the materials they don’t survive. As a result, there is little information available describing how kingfisher feather ‘enamelling’ was actually undertaken. Obviously, the first step would have to be catching on of those birds without damaging it too much and stripping it of all its feathers. Each feather was then taken out and painstakingly glued to a silver backing. The base was likely prepped before hand with different partitions to create a specific shape. The whole process of inlaying with the feathers was called tian-tsui ‘dotting with kingfishers’. As feather inlay must have been such a fiddly and infuriating process no doubt these pins would have been super expensive.
Kingfisher feathers were most used for hair ornaments and less often in fancy hats. Shown here is a a phoenix crown that was typically worn by empresses in earlier Chinese dynasties but was a garment that was appropriated by other segments of Chinese society in formal occaisons like marriage. These crowns were often formed over copper wire and then covered with kingfisher feather inlay in the shapes of flowers, butterflies, phoenixes, pearls, and mirrors.
I found a super indepth article on it here and probably. DON’T GLAZE OVER.