Everything Gourmet

Glorious Gold

Hair ornament in gold decorated with a historic scene. Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644. Collection Mengdiexuan, photo Picspark Co. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France — Delightful dragons, a tireless tiger, a flying phoenix and the pomp and circumstance of Imperial China are all on show in a tantalizing exhibition at the L’Ecole, the School of Jewelry Arts. supported by the house of Van Cleef & Arpels. Entitled Gold and Treasures, 3,000 years of Chinese ornaments, the exhibition showcases 3,000 years of Chinese gold smithing through a selection from the Mengdiexuan collection, a spectacular private collection from Hong Kong being shown in Europe for the first time.  The pieces are packed with symbolism: happiness, longevity, rank, prosperity and generally speaking good omens.

Phoenix hair ornament in gold. Song Dynasty, 960-1279. Collection Mengdiexuan, photo Picspark Co. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The show opens up with an introduction to gold, the raw material at hand. Gold smithing and jewelry making techniques are explored including hammering, chasing, smelting, filigrane and gilding. But the show takes the visitor on a compact journey through the Chinese Empire, Central Asia, Mongolia and the endless Steppes of Eurasia. The Great Steppe stretches across mountains, rivers, grasslands and lakes and in its good earth, below its good earth, minerals, minerals that made this region one of world’s leading centres of ancient metallurgy, an art and science that made its way to China with the help of the ancient Scythes, nomadic groups adept at horseback riding in Central Asia. It was trading with nomads that brought the gold to China, and there it remained for thousands of years and the pieces in the exhibition span  3,000 years beginning with the Shang Dynasty (1500-1046 B.C) and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and underscore ancient knowhow. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, belt buckles and hair ornaments in glorious gold are the stars of the show. 

Dragon ornament in gold for clothing known as a peizhui from the Dynasties Song to Ming 960-1644 Collection Mengdiexuan, Photo Picspark Co. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

And the show offers a learning experience into ancient Chinese culture. Gold is immortal and so was eaten by Chinese alchemists to increase their longevity. The representation of the five-clawed dragon was for the Imperial family only. Gold is a mineral and so crystalizes exceptional faculties for transformation. The excellent exhibition was curated by Valentina Bruccoleri and Olivier Segura and was put on with the collaboration of the Guimet, the national museum devoted to the arts of Asia and the Mineral Collection of the Sorbonne University. 

Tiger ornament in gold from the Warring States period, 475-221 B.C. Collection Mengdiexuan, photo Picspark Co. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

L’Ecole, the School of Jewelry Arts, is supported by the world renowned jewelry house of Van Cleef & Arpels, and brings the fascinating universe of jewelry to the world through exhibitions, classes and conferences, in both English and French. And this for a decade now. Exhibition until April 14th.©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette. Exhibition is free of charge, reservations obligatory at: 


31 rue Danielle Casanova

75001 Paris, France

+33 (0)1 70 70 38 40

Categories: Everything Gourmet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s