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A Gold and Turquoise Belt Chinese Tang Dynasty 7th Century Length: 63cm Width: 5cm, courtesy of Susan Ollemans

A rare gold belt inset with turquoise.

Belt ornaments appeared in bronze or gold from around the 9th Century B. The majority of belt ornaments come from male tombs although a few have been found in female tombs re-enforcing the warrior-like nature of the nomadic women. With increased exposure to the northern nomads the Chinese began to develop their own design of the belt and belt hook. By the Tang Dynasty lavish belt decorations were given as marks of respect with Imperial edicts decreeing and regulating the number of plaques that could be worn according to rank and status. Jade was worn by the Emperor and down to third –ranked officers. Gold, silver, bronze and iron inset with hard stones were regulated to the lower ranks. By the Ming Dynasty many of these belts had lost a functional use and had become only a symbol of rank.

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