Mar. 22nd, 2010

frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a pair of women's shoes in green silk brocade, measuring approx. 24.5cm from toe to heel, lined with quilted silk and kapok fibre. The weave of the brocade is typical of Shu brocade, with a simple pattern of small white flowers with eight tapered petals (Jasminum sambac?). The outsoles of the shoes were made from the hide of water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Tests indicate that the item dates back to the late 19th century.

The shoes are in a fairly good condition. The outsoles have been replaced at least once, as indicated by stitching on the lateral side of the shoes. Traces of soot and mineral oils (mainly kerosene) are easily detectable on the soles. The silk brocade shows minimal water and soil stains, which may suggest that the shoes were worn indoors. Threadbare patches and multiple mending in the lining also suggest that the shoes were likely to be part of frequent wear.

Item was found with a ring (wrapped in a square of white linen) placed in the vamp of the right shoe -- to be cross-referenced once an abstract is entered into the system.
jhameia: ME! (Default)
[personal profile] jhameia
Item is a figurine with a porcelain surface, and extremely delicate clockwork pieces inside. These pieces, however, are variously made of wood and metal, instead of the expected all metal inside. The woods are cured, well-preserved hardwood (impossible to tell what species), and the metals are variously brass, iron and bronze. It is uncertain why the inventor chose such a diverse range of metals for a single piece.

This item was found in an ivory box, lined with sheepskin, likely to cushion the figurine. On the cover are Chinese characters, and it took a while to translate these - pinyin transliteration is: "Tok Tok Rén"*

Box: Width: 20cm; Length: 30cm; Depth: 10cm
Figurine: Length: 25cm; Width: 10cm; Breadth: 5cm

The figurine appears to have had a face, but the paint has faded. The porcelain also appears to be stained; with what, we're not sure. There is a little notch on the back, presumably for a windup key. As yet, we are unsure of the function of this piece.

* Perhaps this is an onomatopeia, in reference to the kind of sound it makes when active. I would appreciate it if my Chinese colleagues could verify this for me. If there's tok tok meen, then surely there can be tok tok men. Of course, tok tok meen is colloquial Malaysian-Hokkien, isn't it? Are there equivalents in the Chinese provinces? If the former, then perhaps this piece is Malayan in origin. I confess my lack of knowledge of the Middle Kingdom fails me here.
frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a ring made of tumbaga, a gold-copper alloy, and discovered placed within another item previously catalogued: a pair of green silk brocade shoes. The item was wrapped in a square of white linen -- unhemmed and uneven, with ragged edges, indicating that it was probably torn from a larger piece of cloth.

The ring is likely to be originally almost perfectly circular, with a diameter of approx. 16mm. Unfortunately, a significant dent in the ring makes it difficult to measure the diameter and circumference accurately. Pitting and substantial heat damage have degraded the outside surface of the ring -- archeologist S.A. determined this was likely from an explosion.

A Chinese character was carved into the inner surface of the ring: 肝 ("liver"). Linguists speculate that the character was used in a specific context, not literally, but thus far the actual meaning of its usage eludes us.
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