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Three Interesting facts about Chinese Hulu Earrings

Apr 3, 2019

The naturalism has been popular in Chinese jewelry design since ancient times. This is closely linked to the Chinese culture of respecting and even imitating natural elements. Hulu is one of the most popular images in Chinese jewelry, especially in earrings from the Song (960-1297) and Ming (1368-1664) Dynasties. Today, we would like to share three interesting facts about Hulu earrings with you.

Fact 1: Earrings were not popular before Song Dynasty (960-1297)

In ancient times, Chinese people believed it was important to preserve the natural state of their body as much as possible. Confucius said, "Our bodies - to every hair and bit of skin - are received by us from our parents, and we must not presume to injure or wound them." Actions such as cutting hair and piercing ears were seen as disrespectful to one's parents. This is why, before the Song Dynasty, accessories like bracelets, necklaces, and rings were common, but earrings were not, especially in Han culture, where Confucianism was mainstream. However, during the Song and Ming Dynasties, when the Cheng–Zhu School became the main philosophy, and women were less respected than in previous dynasties, women began wearing earrings as a symbol of their lower status.

Queen Mingxiaoren of Ming Dynasty in Hulu Earrings

Queen Mingxiaoren of Ming Dynasty in Hulu Earrings

Fact 2: Hulu Means Good Luck and Fortune

The Hulu is a popular earring element from the Ming Dynasty, as people believed it brought good luck and fortune. The word "Hulu" (葫芦) consists of two characters: "Hu" (葫), which sounds like "Fu" (福), meaning good luck, and "Lu" (芦), the same sound as "Lu" (禄), meaning fortune. The combined meaning of "Hulu" signifies good luck and fortune, a typical example of homophonic culture in China.

Hulu Earrings

Vintage Jewelry of Hulu Shape, Ming Dynasty

Fact 3: Gold/Silver Filigree Technique Applied in Jewelry Partly Because People Admired Ingenious Art Skills in Ming Dynasty

During the Ming Dynasty, the ingenious art style was in favor. An example is the Nut Boat, a sculpture on a nut. Filigree art, precise and elegant, met the taste for luxury and ingenuity, explaining why this technique peaked during the Ming Dynasty. The technique allowed for complicated and detailed shapes with light weight, which is especially evident in hollow Hulu earrings, showcasing the immense effort crafters put into these masterpieces.

The Nut Boat of Ming Dynasty

Filigree & Jade Earrings, Ming Dynasty

Filigree & Jade Earrings, Ming Dynasty

While the meanings behind women's earrings have evolved, and today they can even be a window to show an independent spirit, the Hulu continues to symbolize good luck.


Filigree Earrings Forest Collection Wulu

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