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Inventory

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YI QUIVER

Place of Origin: SOUTHWEST CHINA

Date: Late 19th / Early 20th Century

Overall: 500mm (19 ¾ inches)

Reference: 297

Status: Sold

Full Description:

A rare and well-preserved quiver of the Yi or Nuosuo people (historically known as Lolo), an ethnic minority group in China which is based across the Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces.

The underside of the base-cap is inlaid with a harmonious arrangement of mother-of-pearl pieces: the central shell is largest, whilst each concentric circle surrounding it is composed of shell-pieces that increase in size as the composition extends to the edge. The top-side then narrows into the main cylindrical section of the quiver which is composed of vertically carved bamboo. This central trunk also includes two raised sections which have been pierced for suspension, so that the quiver could be slung over the shoulder. The top of the quiver is inset with further circles of mother-of-pearl in three rows – a motif repeated on a triangular protrusion which sits just under the slender lobed gap where the arrows would be kept.

The quiver is covered throughout with a black lacquer which in small areas shows traces of a reddish-brown colour. In many Yi pieces such as this (as well as the armguard (Ref. 31) and cuirasses (Ref. 32 & Ref. 33) in this exhibition), the colour black dominates due to the various reasons which explain the importance of the colour in Yi culture. The black tiger is a deity worshipped in Yi religion (their group’s historical name, “Lolo”, is in fact related to the Yi word “lo”, which means “tiger”) and the colour black is also considered to represent high social status (as one might infer, lower-status individuals would normally wear white).[1]

A closely related example to our own (Inv. No. 71.1946.22.7.1-4) is preserved in the Quai Branly Museum, Paris. Another at the Bowers Museum in California (Object No. 2005.32.8) is painted although in slightly more worn condition than ours.

 

Published

Henry Bussière, Princes des Cimes, Editions Adamas, 2003

 

Provenance

From the collection of Acher Eskanasy

 

[1] Mei-yin Lee & Dr. Florian Knothe (eds.), Embroidered Identities: Ornately Decorated Textiles and Accessories of Chinese Ethnic Minorities, published by the University Museum and Art Gallery at The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2013, p. 103.