Kingfisher feather hairpin designed as a cicada on a leaf, €1200 (£1045) at Adam’s.

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This style of Chinese art, known as Tian-Tsui, involves cutting and glueing the feathers onto their metal mounts. It is a very time-consuming and intricate task (the restoration of the phoenix crown worn by the queen of the Ming dynasty required the use of 100,000 jade birds) but the finished result is rich and distinctive.

The Fine Asian Art sale at Adam’s (25% buyer’s premium) in Dublin on December 18 included a single-owner collection of these brightly coloured and highly decorative jewels.

Twenty lots were on offer from the collection, mostly dating from the Qing dynasty (18th/19th century). The majority were hair pins but there were also a pair of earrings and a couple of headdresses.

All found buyers and a number of them ended up making significantly more than the estimate.

Heading the sale


The Qing dynasty kingfisher feather and pearl set headdress that realised €5500 (£4780) at Adam’s Asian Art auction in Dublin.

The most expensive item was one of the headdresses: a kingfisher feather and pearl set piece of bandeau form measuring 11½in (29.5cm) and worked with a butterfly amid flower clusters that included peony and chrysanthemum. It ended up making €5500 (£4780) against a €1000-1500 guide but a number of hairpins also proved to be in demand.

Several of them were designed and mounted en tremblant including a pin worked with sanduo fruits, lotus and a butterfly which made €2800 (£2435) where €300-500 had been predicted. 

The highest price in the auction was paid for a modern artwork, a painting by Kattingeri Krishna Hebbar (1911-96), an Indian artist who spent time at the Academie Julien in Paris but worked for much of his career in Mumbai. The oil on canvas measuring 2ft 5in x 3ft 7in (76cm x 1.1m) depicting a charioteer is signed and dated 62 and realised €65,000 (£56,520).

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