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A Sui-Tang dynasty woman’s crown: analyzing form, glass and class

Abstract

A woman’s crown made of fine gilt bronze with refined glass inlay work was excavated from a Sui-Tang tomb called Kunlun M2 in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. Very few female crowns and crown ornaments have been excavated in China thus far, and there has been a lack of systematic research into the technologies used to manufacture them. Importantly, this paper uses the M2 crown to investigate its surface inlays and overall shape, then conducts a comparative analysis of women's crown ornaments of the same type, providing a reference for study of the crown. Non-invasive and micro-destructive analysis including optical microscopy (OM), optical coherence tomography (OCT), micro X-ray fluorescence imagery (XRF), and Raman spectroscopy were applied. These identified the crown’s inlays as potash-lime glass, composed mainly of the raw materials: vein quartz or quartzite with potassium nitrate as flux. The inlays were sintered before embedding into gilt copper wire filigree. In comparison to the composition proportions in other ancient potash-lime glass, there is no specific percentage of the raw materials in Chinese potash-lime glass, where the ingredients were likely determined by the experience of the craftsman. Compared with existing research on other crowns and their inlays, this study speculates that the crown dates from the Sui dynasty (581–618) or early Tang dynasty (618–649), was made locally by Chinese craftsmen and belonged to the wife of a high official.

Introduction

In January 2007, the Xi’an Kunlun Industry Company found two tombs at their premises in an eastern suburb of Xi’an. That month, the Xi’an Institute of Cultural Relics Protection and Archaeology conducted a rescue excavation of the tombs. A large number of crown ornaments were discovered in the M2 tomb. Archaeological investigation and research classify M2 as a typical tomb of the Sui dynasty (581–618) to early Tang (618–649) dynasty, with such ritual female crowns belonging to the late Sui and early Tang periods. There is a lack of archaeological information, such as an epitaph tablet, to further identify the Kunlun M2 crown, but scientific research can explore the intrinsic chemical character of the crown’s decorative elements and manufacturing techniques used, as well as placing it in the context of technological developments and exchange, and social significance in the Sui-Tang period (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1
figure 1

Extant components of the Kunlun M2 Crown (Photo: Du Jingnan)

The crown was made using filigree inlay, a technique that originated in China in the Warring States Period (475–221 BCE), when it was called jin yin cuo (金银错 ‘gold and silver inlay’) and involved painting gold and silver onto the surface of bronze artworks. By the Sui and Tang dynasties, filigree inlay technique was mature, with the development of high level techniques for making fine gold and silver thread [1, 2]. Examples of exquisite ornamented female crowns include that of Sui dynasty Empress Xiao (566–648, wife of Emperor Yang) [3], and the Tang dynasty ‘phoenix crown’ found in the 736 tomb of the royal family member Li Chui [4] (Fig. 2). Tang dynasty women’s crowns were also recorded in the incised line drawings on the interiors of the stone sarcophagi in the Qianling tombs of Crown Prince Zhanghuai [5] and Crown Prince Yide [6], dating from 706. The filigree technique in the Kunlun M2 crown is not as elegant as these, however. This suggests that the owner of this crown was not of the highest status, though without epitaph tablets or other identifying information extant in the tomb, her precise status is difficult to ascertain. This paper analyses the physical evidence of the inlay materials and the way these were combined with the base metal to unlock more historical information about the crown, and compare it to other crowns and crown ornaments. Thus, we can combine the inlays’ physical and chemical information together with the typology of the crown to identify the status of crown’s owner more accurately, while shedding new light on the inlay techniques of the Sui-Tang period [7].

Fig. 2
figure 2

Li Chui’s crown in the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology (Photo: Liu Xingchen)

Nondestructive analysis methodology

Due to the Kunlun M2 Crown’s rarity, elite character and significance as a nationally important Chinese cultural relic, destructive methods of analysis were not permitted. Accordingly, OM, OCT, microfocus XRF and Raman spectroscopy were used to analyze the ornament samples of the Kunlun M2 crown, OCT was used for the first time in China for high-resolution imaging of inlays, and microfocus XRF (not commonly used in archaeological analysis), with its highly focused beams of light, allowed precise control of the areas to be tested and accurate data to be obtained in seconds. The parts that were analyzed are shown in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3
figure 3

Ornaments of the Sui-Tang crown excavated from Kunlun M2, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China. AL represent the test points. (Photo: Du Jingnan)

Description of samples

Figure 1 shows five parts of the Kunlun M2 crown after conservation. The main color on the headpiece is green coated with gold and colourful, elegant, and sumptuous decorations. BB-1 and BB-2, called bo bin (broad sideburns), were distributed on both sides of the head, lower than the ears simulating sideburns or streamers (Fig. 4a) [8]. Granulated bronze beads at the periphery of these elements began to evolve under the influence of Sasania (Persia) during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (386–589), and became typical inclusions in crown designs of the Sui-Tang period, reaching a peak in the Tang Dynasty [9] (Fig. 4c) [10]. Apricot leaf-shaped ornaments, XY-2, XY-3, XY-6, XY-8, would have hung at the back of the crown; these are called bao dian (filigree inlay) (Fig. 4c) [11]. Typically, the size and materials of bo bin and the number of bao dian represent the class of the person who wore the crown [10]. In Fig. 4b, there is a flower bouquet-shaped decoration called bu yao (an ornament that quivers when the wearer walks) [12]. The bo bin, bao dian, and bu yao together could form a floral female crown popular in the Sui-Tang dynasty [8]. (Bu yao quivering pieces, were also found in Kunlun M2, but are not analyzed in-depth in this article). In total, the excavation of M2 revealed two bo bin, eight bao dian, and the remains of at least four bu yao pieces, indicating that the Kunlun crown belonged to a high-class woman [13, 14]. Crowns of the highest rank consist of twelve bao dian, so the owner of the Kunlun M2 crown, with eight bao dian, could be the wife of a second-grade official (not less than an Imperial Chief Secretary or an Imperial General) [3, 15].

Fig. 4
figure 4

Typical ornaments on Sui-Tang female crowns [8]: a bo bin (博鬓), b bu yao (步摇), c bao dian (宝钿). (Drawings: Wang Fei)

Each part of the headpiece has extensive inlays with granulated metal beads surrounding them. The inlay materials and their associated manufacture technology are little known due to the small number of Sui-Tang female crowns or headwear discovered so far, and because most of these are too rare and precious to be subjected to destructive analysis. Of known crowns, the Kunlun crown is most similar in type to that of Sui dynasty Empress Xiao (566–648, wife of Emperor Yang) excavated in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province in 2012, and the earliest empress’ crown discovered thus far. Both the M2 Kunlun crown and Empress Xiao’s crown are made of gilt bronze, with multiple inlays, bo bin, bu yao, and bao dian, as well as coherent beads at their periphery (Fig. 5).

Fig. 5
figure 5

Left: crown of Sui dynasty Empress Xiao [16]; right: reconstructed replica of Empress Xiao’s crown. (Photos: Tian Jin)

Instrumental techniques

The discovery of the Kunlun M2 crown has enabled the conduct of the analytical experiments in this study to observe and analyze the inlays, using OM, OCT, XRF, and Raman with the following test conditions:

OM

The microscope used in this experiment was a Primotech from ZEISS, connected to a tablet computer equipped with Matscope software to obtain relatively clear micrographs.

OCT

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is the optical analog of ultrasound imaging and is emerging as a powerful imaging technique enabling non-invasive, high resolution, cross-sectional imaging in light transmittable material. Its axial resolution is typically 3–15 μm, and the imaging depth in the air is typically 2 mm. The OCT used in this system is the iHR320 produced by Jobin Yvon of France, connected to the Symphony CCD detector and computer. The Symphony controller adopts thermoelectric cooling (STE) for the CCD detector, enabling the target temperature of CCD chip to reach 70℃, and making the dark current of the detector very low to improve the SNR of the system. The light source is 1 W high-power LED produced by Shenzhen Yongxin Co., Ltd. The central wavelength is about 860 nm and the half-width is about 35 nm. The core components of OCT are diffraction grating and planar CCD. When 1200 g/mm grating is selected, the spectrometer resolution is 0062 nm, and the minimum integration time of CCD(H1024xV256) is 1 ms.

Microfocus XRF

The microfocus X-ray fluorescence spectrometer used was a model artax-400, made by BRUKER, Germany. The range of elements analyzed was 11Na—92U (the content of sodium was not measured in the actual experiment, as the error margin would have been too large), and the spatial resolution was 0.2–1.5 mm, better than 159 eV. During the experiment, there was an Rh target, helium purge, and the beam spot diameter was 1 μm.

Raman spectroscopy

This experiment was tested using laser microscopy with a confocal Raman spectrometer (model In Via, Reinshaw, Co., Ltd.). The excitation wavelength of the Ar ion laser source is 532 nm, the spectral range is 200–1060 nm, and the spectral resolution is 0.5–1 cm. During the experiment, the temperature generally required is between 18 and 30 ℃, with the humidity below 50%.

Results

Micrographs of the Kunlun M2 crown headpieces (Table 1)

Table 1 Micrographs of the Kunlun M2 crown headpieces

OCT results of the Kunlun M2 crown inlays (Table 2)

Table 2 OCT results of the Kunlun M2 crown inlays

Focal XRF of Kunlun M2 crown inlays (Table 3)

Table 3 Chemical composition analysis using micro focal XRF

Raman spectrum of XY-8 of the Kunlun M2 crown (Fig. 6)

Fig. 6
figure 6

a, b The Raman spectrum XY-8 of the Kunlun M2 crown. XY-8e is the Raman spectrum of the base metal. Other XY-8 measurements are for parts of the glass inlays, and the inverted grey triangles represent the corresponding peaks of the six measurements

Principal component analysis (PCA) of Chinese potash-lime glass

The chemical composition of Chinese potash-lime glass is shown in the Appendix. Its PCA is as follows: (Fig. 7)

Fig. 7
figure 7

PCA is used in these potash-lime glass decorations to obtain statistical models that make significantly visible the samples’ chemical components and their proportional differences. (The 4 Categories—Dynasty, Place, Type and Color which were selected are the four parameters that are most likely to affect the potash-lime-glass glass composition. Dynasty and place are dependent on the samples’ sites, type is the archaeological type of the sample, color is the physical color of the glassware)

Discussion

This study is the first to analyze glass inlays in a crown. These tests can contribute to knowledge more widely about glassware and help with the study of crowns and other inlaid objects.

Characterization of the decorative pieces

Surface topographical features

A magnification of 50, reveals numerous bubbles and cracks in the inlaid decorative materials (XY-2 01, XY-2 02, XY-8 H), and these contain obvious impurities (BB-2 04, BB-2 05). Inside the gilded copper forming the frames of the decoration there is an unknown white substance that seems to be binding material for the inlays (XY-2 A, XY-2 B, XY-2 03, XY-8 G). Pearls form a circular decoration around the edges of the headpieces, (BB-2 pearl). The inlays are colorful but the inlay workmanship on the headpieces overall is not finely executed, with the individual inlay frames uneven in width and lacking uniformity of shape (XY-2 01, XY-2 02). There is a conchoidal fracture on the transparent inlay of XY-2B. In BB-2 05 there is an uncommon characteristic, where it appears that gold foil is embedded within the inlaid decorative material; possibly an accidental inclusion of gold foil that has fallen into the raw material of the inlay. Other impurities are also evident in the inlays (BB-2 04).

All surface topographical features reveal rough workmanship, and the inlaid materials are in an amorphous state, full of bubbles. To understand the techniques and materials used to make the inlays, OCT was used to observe the internal features of the inlays. The results are shown in Table 2s.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) features

OCT is a well-used tool for the inspection of reverse glass painting (Hinterglasmalerei, 玻璃版画) paintings, faience, jade and porcelain in the field of Heritage Research [17,18,19,20,21,22], as it is a fast non-contact and non-invasive technique for the examination of objects that consist of transparent or semi-transparent materials [23]. In this study, the refractive index and Thickness of glass material cannot be measured, but “surface coat” can be seen in nearly all samples. This may have been caused by weathering and could have affected the composition of the materials, therefore the surface coats were removed to exclude disturbance to the analysis. The OCT image of sample B, reveals damage to the inlay in the form of a crack (see Table 2-B). Due to the lack of comparable OCT data from other ancient glass artifacts from the Sui-Tang dynasty, it is not possible to ascertain its relative quality and sophistication of craftsmanship.

Material composition

After examining the optical characterization of the inlays, their composition was analyzed using micro focal XRF and Raman.

Elemental composition

Table 3 summarizes the analysis of the composition of the decorations on the M2 crown using micro focal XRF. The test results of XY2-A and BB-K were affected by the base metal. Most of the Silicon (Si) content ranges from 66.78 to 95.770 wt%, the content of only XY2-A and BB-K are lower than 34.82wt% and 33.117wt% respectively, potassium (K) content ranges from 0.33 to 7.46, most calcium (Ca) content ranges from 1.92 to 10.32, and only BB-L shows 21.47wt% which is several times that of other decorations, with ferrum (Fe) content ranges from 0.17 to 1.18 wt%. It is important to note that aluminum (Al), magnesium (Mg), and sodium (Na) are not present in these samples, while sulfur (S) abounds in XY2-A and BB-K and there is a small quantity in XY-F and BB-I.

This chemical composition as a whole indicates that the inlays are potash-lime glass. Soda lime silicate glass which was introduced to China from the West has been made and applied in Inner China since the Tang Dynasty. Na2CO3, NaNO3 and CaCO3 are more common minerals in Western glass and some domestic Chinese glass [24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34]. High potassium content is not typical of Western glass but is characteristic of Central and Southeast Asian glass [35, 36], with research work demonstrating that the ratio of silicon to potassium of China’s potassium glass is higher than Central and Southeast Asian countries [34, 37]. The inlaid glass sample in this paper has elemental characteristics consistent with domestic Chinese glass [24, 38,39,40,41].

According to modern glass scientific research, potassium silicate glass has the characteristics of higher chemical stability, is not easily crystallized, and has material enhancements making it suitable for the manufacture of more complex glassware of exquisite appearance [42, 43].

The high amount of silicon and lack of aluminum indicate the use of raw material excluding arenaceous quartz and sandstone, and probably including vein quartz or quartzite. Arenaceous quartz contains a small number of impurities such as Al2O3, K2O, Fe2O3, Fe2O3, Cr2O3, and TiO2, all of which can be used to colour glassand affect its transparency. Sandstone is a kind of clastic sedimentary rock formed by cementing quartz particles and cementing material under high pressure. The cementing material can be divided into clay sandstone (containing more Al2O3), arkose sandstone (containing more K2O), and calcareous sandstone (containing more CaO). The appearance of sandstone is mostly yellowish and reddish, and red when iron staining is strong. The variation range of SiO2 content is 65–95%.

Vein quartz is an igneous rock with a hard texture and sedimentary crystalline properties. Its appearance is pure white and translucent with a greasy luster. It fractures like a shell and has a SiO2 content of up to 99%. Quartzite is a metamorphic rock, which is formed by the recrystallization of quartz grains by the metamorphic process of siliceous sandstone. Its SiO2 content is more than 97%, it is hard and not easy to crush, and is a good raw material for manufacturing ceramics and advanced glass products.

The presence of K and absence of Mg might indicate the use of saltpeter (potassium nitrate) as a fluxing agent rather than plant ash, with Ca being the stabilizer of the admixture. According to Fuxi Gan’s “Development of glass technology in ancient China”, on the Northern Song dynasty period (960–1127), to further improve the physical properties of glass, saltpeter (KNO3) was generally used as a flux, so that K2O replaced part of the PbO, and changed lead silicate glass to potassium and lead silicate glass [43].

Based on archaeological typology, the “bead circle line” (Fig. 3) on the objects from this experiment belong to the late Sui or early Tang dynasty [44]. The elemental composition of the glass supports this dating. Saltpeter, straw ash, and potash fertilizer are discovered as the source of most potassium elements used to make potassium calcium silicate glass in ancient China. It is not clear whether saltpeter was used in the production of glass in Sui Dynasty, but there was certainly no use of straw ash or potash fertilizer in the raw material of Kunlun M2 woman’s crown.

Composition of the inlays

In Fig. 6a, XY-8e is the Raman spectrum of the base metal of XY-8, with peaks of 902.571 cm−1, 1012.21 cm−1, 1336.94 cm−1, 1444.15 cm−1, and 1554.36 cm−1. The grey inverted triangles indicate that all Raman spectra have the similar peaks compared to XY-8e, at around 900 cm−1, 1100 cm−1, 1300 cm−1, 1335 cm−1, 1420 cm−1, 1445 cm−1, 1551 cm−1. The base metal has a significant effect on the Raman test results of glass inlays, so the possible molecular structure of the glass inlays’ composition is still unknown.

In Fig. 6b, the Raman spectrum peaks of blue glass in the sample XY-2 are 591.093 cm−1 and 1080.050 cm−1, the Raman spectrum peaks of the gold foil of the sample XY-8 are 585.703 cm−1, 609.467 cm−1, 686.162 cm−1, 1133.359 cm−1, 1365.990 cm−1 and the Raman spectrum peaks of a pearl-like inlay on sample BB-1 are 145.968 cm−1, 202.261 cm−1, 699.009 cm−1, 1080.050 cm−1. The main composition of this inlay is calcium carbonate, which means it is highly possible that BB-2 06 is pearl.

Comparison of Chinese ancient potash-lime glass

This study has analyzed the glass inlays of the Kunlun M2 crown and shown that they are all potash-lime glass. Chinese potassium glass was not common in the Sui and Tang dynasties [45] and has not been systematically studied. To discover what role these potash-lime-glass decorations played in ancient China, this investigation has collected most of the representative data and compared these with the data of the glass inlays of the Kunlun M2 crown using the PCA method. The primary data is shown in Appendix and the PCA results are shown in Fig. 7.

In Fig. 7 the samples were grouped into four categories, by dynasty, excavation location, type, and color, respectively, to understand how the ratio of materials in the samples was affected. The elemental components of the glassware samples have significant regional characteristics. This could be because the ratios of materials used in local glass handicraft industries varied by production time, relic type, and their appearance of color, but were consistent by excavation place. Therefore, potash-lime glass was hypothesized to have been made locally, and the ratio of the raw material would have been decided by the local craftsmen based on experience. Unlike bronzeware, ceramics, or other mature industries in ancient China, glass manufacturing was not yet fully developed, especially potassium glass. K2O–CaO–SiO2 glass appeared around the Spring and Autumn period to early Warring State period (800–400 BC), mostly in the form of faience [46]. Compared with other types of glass, potassium glass has a higher softening temperature, superior toughness, and higher strength, so it is also called hard glass and is suitable for decoration making. In the Spring and Autumn period, the bronze Sword of Goujian has blue glass inlay decorations consisting of K2O–CaO–SiO2 glass [24, 47]. The glass was inlaid in the sword handle together with kallaite (turquoise), suggesting that K2O–CaO–SiO2 glass could have been one of the most valuable items indicating high honor at that time when the production of glass was probably very rare. During the historical development of glass manufacture, the value of the potash-lime glass became less as time progressed. In the Sui-Tang dynasty, the royal family used potassium glass imported from the West, but hardly used domestic Chinese potash-lime glass [2]. The Kunlun M2 crown uses potash-lime glass inlay indicating that its owner was a woman of high, but not royal, social status. According to An Jiayao’s “A Brief History of Glasswares in China”, Western glass came to China in the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE) [24], and from then on Western glass gradually became a symbol of the highest status and power [2]. Domestic potash-lime glass in China, by comparison, can be taken to represent the “second highest class” up until the Song dynasty (960 AD) when the glass industry was no longer under government control [2]. Exquisite domestic glassware was produced during the Sui and Tang dynasties, marking a peak of Chinese glass manufacturing [2]. Most of that domestic glass was crystal glass with a high lead content, used exclusively for vessels. After the Song dynasty, glass manufacturing in China moved from government-controlled palace workshops and temple workshops to the private sector. After that time, the value of glass began to plummet and it was no longer valued by the upper classes [2].

In the late Sui to early Tang dynasty the glass inlays in the Kunlun M2 woman’s crown, were dyed to imitate crown jewels. A, E and G look similar to amber, sapphire, and kallaite, respectively. Although the overall shape of the crown has been destroyed, and the value of the domestic glass can be assessed as lower than that of precious stone, this confirms that the crown belonged to a woman of significant social status above that of an ordinary person.

Glass filigree-embedding

Two significant examples of glass inlaid products are the Spring and Autumn period bronze swords that belonged to King Fuchai of Wu and King Goujian of Yue, respectively (Fig. 8). Through scientific and technological analysis, it was found that the glass on the two sword hilts was potassium calcium silicate glass, like the Kunlun M2 crown [47].

Fig. 8
figure 8

a Hilt of King Goujian’s sword. (Photo: Gan Fuxi). b Hilt of King Fuchai’s sword. (Photo: Suzhou Museum)

Other examples of crowns with glass dating from the sixth and seventh centuries make significant use of the filigree technique. The seventh century Sui dynasty tomb of Shi Wushe (buried on 22 January 610), excavated in Guyuan City, Ningxia Province contained a bronze “strip” and “apricot leaf” ornaments (see Fig. 9). Shi Wushe was the Right General leading the cavalry. His ancestors came from a Sogdian city (in the present-day Republic of Tajikistan) [48]. One of the ornaments is very similar to the apricot leaf ornaments of the Kunlun M2 crown. Chen Zhonghui believes that the ornament was made with enamel technology. First, copper wire was used to make cell borders on the copper base, then the vitrified powder was placed in the cells, to be calcined with the copper forming a glass enamel. Historically, this technique, sometimes called “glass coating” inlay technology [49] was used widely from the Warring States period to the Han dynasty. In the sixth century, filigree enamel was also used on gold ornaments, such as those in the tomb of the Eastern Wei dynasty Ru Ru Princess (c.550) located north of Da Zhong Ying village, Hebei Province, and in the Northern Qi dynasty tomb of Lou Rui (c.577) in Taiyuan City (Fig. 10); Western countries also have enamel ornaments [50]. According to the archaeological record, pearls, carnelians, sapphires, emeralds, clamshells, and glass were inlaid in the gold ornament of Lou Rui’s tomb, while pearls, gemstones, and amber were inlaid in the gold ornament of Ru Ru Princess’s tomb. None of these glass inlays were tested for composition, however [48] in the case of the glass of Kunlun M2 crown, the base of gilded bronze is pure copper and the inlays are potash-lime glass. Comparison of the Kunlun M2 crown with the two swords of Wu and Yue, and since potassium glass is harder than other glass, it can be inferred that potash-lime glass may have been considered more suitable for inlaying. The glass transition temperature of the potash-lime glass is about 1200 ℃, which is higher than the melting temperature of copper which is 1083.4 ℃, and much higher than the firing temperature of enamel which is around 800 ℃. Therefore, the inlays of the Kunlun M2 crown apricot leaf ornaments must have been sintered first and then embedded inside the copper wire filigree. This is also indicated in Table 1 (XY-2A, XY-2B, XY-8H, XY-8G), where the edge of the glass inlays are not smooth, the glass was cut roughly with a conchoidal fracture, and not well matched to the filigree. There is also a white substance in the gap between the glass and filigree. Infrared spectroscopy, Transmission X-ray diffraction were used to analyze the composition of the white substance, but only SiO2 was found.

Fig. 9
figure 9

The bronze strip and “apricot leaf” ornaments of Shi Wushe’s tomb, Guyuan City, Ningxia Province [48]. (Photo: Luo Feng)

Fig. 10
figure 10

Left: gold ornament of Lou Rui’s tomb in Taiyuan City [51]. (Photo: Taiyuan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology); right: gold ornament of Ru Ru Princess’s tomb [52]. (Photo: Zhu Quansheng)

Comparison with other crowns

Dating back to the Han Dynasty, crowns were first developed only for men to confirm their high status [53], while women use the number of bu yao and bao dian to distinguish status levels [8, 13]. The full coverage ceremonial crown originated during the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420–589), and only could be worn by an empress or empress dowager, while others could only use hair accessories such as bao dian (宝钿, gem filigree inlay) and hair clasps. The earliest complete female crown was recorded in the Northern Wei period relief sculpture of the Longmen Grottoes Binyang Middle Cave [54] (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11
figure 11

Left: Empress Wenzhao, detail of Empress Wenzhao's Buddha Worship, relief sculpture, Binyang Middle Cave, Longmen Grottoes. Northern Wei dynasty [55]. (Photo: YOYO); right: Drawing of larger section showing three people wearing crowns [56]. (Drawing: Longmen Cultural Relics Depository)

In the Longmen relief, there are three crowns but only two of them are have bo bin. Bo bin can be seen at the bottom of the crown of Northern Wei Empress Wenzhao and the presumed Queen Mother Hu, where the tops of the crowns resemble a lotus in full bloom and there seem to be three circular ornaments hanging from the forehead, believed by archaeologists to be leaf-shaped decorations [54].

There is a further crown with similar apricot leaf ornaments to that of Kunlun M2 crown, unearthed from the Northern Wei Dynasty tomb M1 in Chen Village, Datong, Shanxi Province. M1 is a well-preserved, high-level, and large-scale brick chamber fresco-lined tomb, however, due to the lack of epitaph tablets, it is impossible to know the identity of the tomb owner [57]. As the leaf ornaments were the only parts recovered from M1 by archaeologists, it is also difficult to determine whether or not these ornaments originally belonged to a complete crown (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12
figure 12

Bronze apricot leaf ornaments of M1, Chen village, Datong city, Shanxi Province, Northern Wei Dynasty [57]. (Photo: Gao Feng)

Unearthed Sui and Tang dynasty, crowns or their parts with similar components to the Kunlun M2 crown are recorded in Table 4.

Table 4 Unearthed ceremonial crowns with bao dian, bo bin or bu yao from the Sui-Tang dynasty

Empress Xiao’s crown reveals the whole scheme of a ceremonial crown in the Sui dynasty, combining bo bin and bao dian with bu yao (Fig. 5) to form a typical ceremonial crown that influenced the form of female ritual crowns until the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Together with Xiao’s crown, about ten other crowns or their components have been excavated.

Xiao’s crown has similar components to the Kunlun M2 crown (Fig. 5; Table 4), but the inlays of its bo bin have not yet been studied. Another is the Tang dynasty crown of Lady Pei who was the wife of Yan Shiwei (magistrate of Lanxi county in Zhejiang Provence) (Table 4) [58]. Yan Shiwei and his wife Lady Pei were buried in their hometown Chang’an (present-day Xi’an) on May 20 (Chinese lunar calendar) in 691. Zhang Zhengyuan identified its glass ornaments as being of two types—one is PbO–SiO2, the other is Na2O–CaO–SiO2 [58, 59], although there are no glass inlays.

Comparing the number of bao dian in the crowns of Empress Xiao and Lady Pei, with the Kunlun M2 crown, they have twelve, six, and eight respectively, Considering the location where the M2 crown was unearthed, the owner of the M2 crown while not a royal family member, was not inferior to Lady Pei.

To date, no analysis of the inlay composition in the above crowns has been conducted, therefore systematic comparison is not possible. Future clarification of the inlays’ chemical composition might enable the establishment of a classification system for Sui and Tang dynasty female ceremonial crowns. Therefore, even if only fragments of crowns can be found, important elements of the owner’s personal information can be restored.

Conclusion

Application of OCT in glass observation

Unlike XRF, Raman detection, OCT is not a common analytical method used in archaeological research. OCT has lower environmental requirements, shorter time, simpler and cheaper instruments than CT, but for translucent and transparent materials, it works very well. In this paper, OCT could expose the cross-sectional information of glass in a nondestructive way, showing both the surface coating layers of the glass and the cracks inside.

Craftsmanship of the glass on Kunlun M2 crown

The inlays in the Kunlun M2 crown are potash-lime glass, belonging to the K2O–CaO–SiO2 system, and, as such, are Chinese domestic glass. This composition is not common in Sui and Tang dynasty domestic lead crystal glass. There is an undefined layer on the surface of each glass inlay, which could be a weathered layer. According to the elemental composition of the glass inlays, the raw materials of the glass might include potassium nitrate and vein quartz or quartzite. The glass inlays use lapidary techniques to cut the glass into shape and then use some additional substance to adhere them in the filigree. The whole process is fairly rough, especially on the edges of the glass and filigree.

The social status of glass products in the Sui-Tang dynasty

Glass technology was generally underdeveloped in China until it reached a peak during the Sui and Tang dynasties when glass manufacture was under government control. Potash-lime glass is one type of historical domestic Chinese glass. The ratio of chemicals comprising the glass is unique to the area and the workshop in which it was produced. It is not related to the advance of time, the particular colors, or the shape of objects. To date, no systematic data have been developed on the properties of glass at that time, nor have there been studies on the effects on the properties of glass according to the chemical distribution ratio, as is the case with historical bronze and ceramic wares. During the Sui and Tang dynasties, glass was generally used by people of the ruling class, but as the domestic glass had a lower status than imported glass, it was generally used by officials, not the royal family.

Defining the Kunlun M2 crown

The shapes of the crown’s elements are very similar to those of Empress Xiao of the Sui dynasty and Lady Pei of the Tang dynasty. The base metal of all three is gilded bronze, though the inlays are different. Although the excavated parts of the Kunlun M2 crown are damaged, the extant materials used to make the crown, to some certain extent, indicate the owner’s social status. Following the previous analysis, the crown was most likely made by the royal workshop for a female owner of an official family, holding high social rank in the late Sui or early Tang dynasty.

Availability of data and materials

The data and materials are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

Archaeological fieldwork was conducted by the Xi’an Archaeology Institute. The authors wish to thank all associated researchers and workers for their encouragement, time and opinions during this project.

Funding

The Project Supported by Natural Science Basic Research Program of Shaanxi (Program No. 2021JQ105). The Humanities and Social Science Foundation of Ministry of Education of China (No. 21YJCZH050). The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Social Sciences), Northwestern Polytechnical University (No. D5000210802).

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Contributions

DJ: methodology, validation, investigation, data analysis, draft writing, editing and reviewing. TE: manuscript editing and reviewing. YJ, JF: project administration. ZQ: provision of samples. SY: methodology, data analyses. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tonia Eckfeld.

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Appendix

Appendix

Sample Type Color Dynasty Place Si Al Ca K Cu Fe S Pb Mn Ti Cr Sr Os
XY2-1 InsertC Brown Late Sui C Xi’an C 34.82 0.00 1.92 1.22 33.49 0.24 23.71 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.24
XY8-1 InsertC Dark blue Late Sui C Xi’an C 89.69 0.00 5.84 3.87 0.13 0.34 0.00 0.07 0.02 0.03 0.00 0.01 0.00
XY8-2 InsertC Brown Late Sui C Xi’an C 78.86 0.00 10.32 7.46 0.02 0.50 2.22 0.00 0.51 0.07 0.01 0.01 0.00
XY8-3 InsertC Green Late Sui C Xi’an C 88.55 0.00 6.62 3.78 0.36 0.29 0.00 0.32 0.02 0.04 0.01 0.01 0.01
XY8-4 InsertC Blue Late Sui C Xi’an C 95.77 0.00 2.59 0.33 0.26 0.83 0.00 0.09 0.01 0.10 0.01 0.01 0.00
BB-1 InsertC Yellow Late Sui C Xi’an C 33.17 0.00 8.30 1.58 7.10 0.17 45.19 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.13 0.00 0.22
BB-2 InsertC Blue Late Sui C Xi’an C 95.03 0.00 3.33 0.84 0.18 0.47 0.00 0.07 0.02 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.00
BB-3 InsertC Green Late Sui C Xi’an C 89.43 0.00 5.49 3.02 0.73 0.24 0.00 1.05 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.02
BB-5 InsertC Yellow Late Sui C Xi’an C 66.78 0.00 21.47 7.46 0.11 1.18 2.72 0.00 0.06 0.16 0.02 0.02 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-1 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 89.26 0.00 6.24 3.72 0.04 0.45 0.00 0.13 0.06 0.07 0.01 0.01 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-2 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 89.13 9.37 1.43 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-3 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 80.72 10.62 5.05 2.84 0.04 0.39 0.00 0.23 0.05 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-4 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 81.28 11.38 4.16 2.39 0.01 0.18 0.00 0.55 0.01 0.03 0.01 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-5 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 81.75 10.69 3.43 3.11 0.02 0.22 0.00 0.06 0.67 0.05 0.01 0.00 0.00
GD02 Bead Dark blue Han Guangdong 81.68 3.70 1.03 10.39 0.03 1.44 0.00 0.14 1.33 0.15 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD05 Glass vessel   Jin Guangdong 80.33 1.87 11.68 4.13 0.02 1.13 0.47 0.00 0.03 0.10 0.06 0.00 0.00
GD04 Accessories (hairpin)   Ming Guangdong 66.25 5.51 10.54 16.39 0.68 0.30 0.07 0.04 0.00 0.22 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD03 Accessories (hairpin)   Ming Guangdong 65.93 5.60 10.58 16.45 0.67 0.32 0.17 0.01 0.00 0.21 0.04 0.00 0.00
GZH-1B Bead Light blue Han Guizhou 84.68 5.55 1.05 5.37 1.52 0.76 0.36 0.00 0.60 0.11 0.01 0.00 0.00
GZH-1C Bead Green Han Guizhou 88.18 4.11 1.38 2.09 2.84 0.86 0.37 0.00 0.03 0.10 0.02 0.00 0.00
GZH-10 Bead   Han Guizhou 88.01 4.80 1.74 2.58 0.13 1.92 0.37 0.00 0.23 0.17 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-35A Bead Yellow Han Sichuan 61.93 1.48 9.98 14.29 0.00 0.40 0.00 11.80 0.00 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-35B Bead White Han Sichuan 73.87 3.44 7.04 9.75 0.01 1.07 4.06 0.36 0.00 0.17 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-35C Bead Dark blue Han Sichuan 63.73 5.27 10.85 12.66 0.02 0.84 5.14 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.05 0.00 0.00
44-18-36B Bead Yellow Han Sichuan 59.11 3.78 24.94 3.50 0.10 0.64 5.91 1.53 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-40 Bead (olive shape) Brown Tang Sichuan 70.26 4.42 8.12 11.52 0.02 0.79 4.16 0.42 0.03 0.09 0.01 0.00 0.00
44-18-37 Bead (olive shape) Light blue Tang Sichuan 69.35 2.25 13.80 11.61 0.01 0.57 0.91 0.34 0.05 0.03 0.01 0.00 0.00
44-18-38 Accessories (bracelet) Green Ming Sichuan 74.66 4.07 5.74 9.26 1.13 3.83 0.73 0.38 0.11 0.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
43-1-65 Accessories   Ming Sichuan 64.40 2.27 15.23 16.49 0.05 0.92 0.40 0.09 0.00 0.07 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-43 Glass vessel Green Sui Sichuan 75.32 1.15 7.76 14.79 0.12 0.23 0.16 0.24 0.04 0.00 0.19 0.00 0.00
44-18-42 Accessories (hairpin)   Ming Sichuan 67.42 2.28 11.36 17.31 0.03 0.57 0.85 0.10 0.01 0.04 0.01 0.00 0.00
C26 Accessories (bracelet)   Han Guangxi 73.83 1.75 3.47 17.60 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-05 Bead Yellow North Wei Inner Mongolia 74.72 6.66 7.00 5.05 0.12 2.36 1.42 0.00 0.10 0.29 0.04 0.00 0.00
WJ-06-B Bead Black North Wei Inner Mongolia 70.39 11.54 6.37 2.95 0.03 3.95 1.18 0.00 0.92 0.31 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-07-A Bead White North Wei Inner Mongolia 72.41 3.73 12.15 1.44 0.00 2.48 2.40 0.00 0.09 0.24 0.03 0.00 0.00
WJ-03-A Bead White North Wei Inner Mongolia 82.90 4.25 6.36 2.75 0.00 1.11 1.05 0.00 0.07 0.11 0.03 0.00 0.00
WJ-03-B Bead Black North Wei Inner Mongolia 82.17 4.37 5.36 2.28 0.03 1.94 1.09 0.00 0.78 0.14 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-02 Bead (hexagonal stick)   Yuan Inner Mongolia 78.04 1.93 8.60 5.03 0.04 4.66 0.88 0.00 0.09 0.09 0.03 0.00 0.00
WJ-08-B Bead White Yuan Inner Mongolia 76.11 4.11 8.10 6.14 0.05 0.28 1.91 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-10 Bead (rhombus) Blue Yuan Inner Mongolia 62.20 8.43 6.09 15.38 1.87 2.01 1.58 0.00 0.05 0.12 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-12 Accessories (hairpin) Blue Yuan Inner Mongolia 83.18 3.70 5.60 3.50 0.72 1.11 1.67 0.00 0.02 0.08 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-01 Bead (hexagonal stick)   Yuan Inner Mongolia 57.44 4.86 7.03 18.65 3.33 4.81 2.03 0.00 0.09 0.09 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS01 Chessbead White Ming Shandong 72.33 9.94 5.95 10.89 0.00 0.36 0.19 0.00 0.00 0.34 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS02 Chessbead Yellow Ming Shandong 69.70 6.41 8.36 14.52 0.41 0.15 0.13 0.00 0.00 0.21 0.04 0.00 0.00
BS03 Accessories (hairpin) Black Ming Shandong 71.59 8.57 7.65 5.13 1.44 0.44 4.27 0.00 0.00 0.26 0.05 0.00 0.00
BS04 Bead (umbrella) Green Ming Shandong 63.29 9.34 8.23 16.23 1.07 0.72 0.58 0.00 0.00 0.26 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS05 Accessories (hairpin) White Ming Shandong 69.14 9.98 8.60 11.30 0.00 0.44 0.33 0.00 0.03 0.18 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS06 Accessories (hairpin) Black Ming Shandong 78.23 8.79 5.74 4.50 0.00 0.61 1.82 0.00 0.00 0.30 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS07 Bi-disk Yellow Ming Shandong 72.02 9.17 10.67 3.56 0.00 0.69 3.09 0.00 0.00 0.38 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ05 Accessories (earrings) Blue Six Dynasties Chongqing 81.50 3.00 1.20 4.80 0.10 3.00 2.40 0.00 3.40 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ09 Bead Brown Six Dynasties Chongqing 45.50 19.30 14.20 4.20 0.10 1.90 11.10 0.00 0.00 0.30 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ10 Bead with hole Blue Six Dynasties Chongqing 76.60 4.30 9.70 4.50 1.10 1.20 1.50 0.00 0.10 0.20 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ11 Bead with hole White Six Dynasties Chongqing 83.40 2.10 7.40 3.60 0.00 0.80 1.70 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ12 Bead with hole Brown Six Dynasties Chongqing 78.30 3.90 7.80 4.60 0.10 1.50 2.40 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ15 Bead with hole Red Six Dynasties Chongqing 88.20 2.10 7.00 1.90 0.00 0.10 0.70 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ17 Bead with hole Black Six Dynasties Chongqing 75.10 4.30 7.90 5.00 0.10 2.20 4.10 0.00 0.20 0.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ18 Bead with hole Green Six Dynasties Chongqing 76.60 13.10 2.20 4.40 0.80 1.30 0.70 0.00 0.00 0.40 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ19 Bead with hole Black Six Dynasties Chongqing 78.10 12.20 3.00 2.60 0.10 1.50 1.40 0.00 0.10 0.60 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ20 Bead with hole Yellow Six Dynasties Chongqing 76.10 12.30 2.30 2.00 0.10 1.10 3.00 0.50 0.10 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00
XZHM06-08 Glass piece Brown   Guangxi 60.04 9.54 4.21 15.95 2.81 2.14 0.00 0.00 0.14 0.57 0.00 0.00 0.00
HBWKI-27 Eye bead Blue Warring States Hubei 67.46 6.84 3.62 11.67 5.07 1.79 0.00 0.00 0.14 0.25 0.03 0.00 0.00
HBWKI-30-A Glass tube Dark blue Warring States Hubei 70.33 6.69 3.80 12.75 2.52 1.33 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.24 0.03 0.00 0.00
HBWKI-30-A Glass tube Dark blue Warring States Hubei 70.04 3.98 3.64 13.44 3.26 1.43 0.00 0.00 0.09 0.30 0.04 0.00 0.00
HBWKI-36 Bead Green Warring States Hubei 76.42 4.65 2.89 8.18 2.34 1.41 0.00 0.00 0.07 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.00
HBWKI-48 Bead Blue Warring States Hubei 59.74 15.87 3.15 7.57 4.41 4.29 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.40 0.04 0.00 0.00
HBWKI-57 Glass tube Dark blue Warring States Hubei 69.16 3.16 4.22 15.00 2.10 1.28 0.00 0.00 0.09 0.14 0.09 0.00 0.00
HBXKI-T9 Eye bead Blue Warring States Hubei 72.41 3.79 2.81 9.82 4.38 0.98 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.08 0.00 0.00 0.00
HBXKI-T10 Bead Blue-green Warring States Hubei 66.45 8.32 4.19 11.68 3.74 3.02 0.00 0.00 0.23 0.29 0.00 0.00 0.00
Lgd4 Glass tube Blue Warring States Hubei 72.73 1.07 1.66 15.63 1.52 0.40 0.34 0.52 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNLY-09c Glass piece Green Warring States Henan 78.50 7.38 4.04 1.84 2.45 3.04 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.15 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNLY-12 Glass vessel   Tang Henan 38.00 7.81 2.85 3.60 4.50 0.47 0.00 26.90 0.03 0.03 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNLY-14a Bead Red Song Henan 47.00 3.78 3.27 8.73 1.95 2.47 0.79 22.30 0.03 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNLY-14b Bead White Song Henan 51.30 8.09 10.40 3.24 0.08 0.92 1.10 16.50 0.00 0.06 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNLY-07 Accessories (earrings) Dark blue Han Henan 72.20 3.88 1.53 11.50 0.08 3.48 0.00 0.00 4.51 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNZZ-55 Accessories (earrings) Blue-green Xin Henan 72.30 3.95 3.82 7.98 0.24 3.82 0.00 0.89 2.76 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNZZ-64 Accessories (earrings) Blue-green Han Henan 84.20 3.67 3.46 2.55 0.07 2.10 0.00 0.00 1.82 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
HNZZ-73 Accessories (earrings) Blue-green Xin Henan 84.00 4.04 4.31 1.65 0.21 2.57 0.00 0.00 0.66 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
GZH-7 Accessories (earrings) Light blue Han Guizhou 77.32 5.15 1.38 9.33 0.06 3.01 0.00 0.00 2.16 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-5A Bead Blue-green Warring States Xinjiang 77.92 1.63 1.97 15.60 0.91 0.57 0.00 0.01 0.01 0.12 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-5B Bead Blue-green Warring States Xinjiang 78.71 1.63 2.36 14.18 1.19 0.43 0.00 0.01 0.02 0.06 0.00 0.00 0.00
HB-3 Bead Light blue Warring States Hubei 71.26 6.83 2.37 10.71 2.64 1.19 0.00 0.98 0.11 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.00
SC-QT Eye bead   Warring States Sichuan 70.86 14.34 5.35 0.84 2.63 1.26 0.00 0.76 0.11 1.26 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A1 Eye bead Red Song Xinjiang 71.63 6.50 9.25 4.04 3.79 2.48 0.00 0.66 0.08 0.33 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A2 Eye bead Black Song Xinjiang 73.12 5.89 12.52 3.91 0.37 2.51 0.00 0.02 0.10 0.48 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A3 Eye bead White Song Xinjiang 73.22 6.05 11.42 3.87 0.28 2.29 0.00 0.65 0.07 0.30 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A4 Eye bead Green Song Xinjiang 73.63 5.24 9.86 4.30 2.08 2.03 0.00 1.46 0.10 0.28 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A5 Eye bead Yellow Song Xinjiang 66.17 4.86 9.35 3.81 0.53 1.57 0.00 13.07 0.06 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A6 Eye bead Green Song Xinjiang 70.66 6.06 10.44 3.85 2.54 2.89 0.00 2.51 0.08 0.29 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD01-1 Eye bead White Warring States Guangdong 54.41 14.37 2.03 2.98 0.13 2.72 0.00 11.82 0.01 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD01-2 Eye bead Blue Warring States Guangdong 49.95 9.01 2.87 1.81 0.06 1.43 0.00 18.58 0.00   0.00 0.00 0.00
XZHM-06-01 Bead Green Han Guangxi 75.56 2.98 1.56 16.64 0.00 0.55 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.20 0.00 0.00 0.00
XZHM-06-02 Bead Blue Han Guangxi 72.24 4.92 1.98 14.32 0.24 1.81 0.00 0.00 1.31 0.32 0.00 0.00 0.00
XZHM-06-02B Bead Blue Han Guangxi 75.44 3.81 1.18 14.55 0.03 1.45 0.00 0.00 1.06 0.24 0.00 0.00 0.00
FMLM26-2 Bead Green Han Guangxi 76.68 2.64 1.46 15.28 0.00 0.54 0.00 0.00 0.05 0.20 0.00 0.00 0.00
XZHM-06-08 Bead Red Han Guangxi 58.87 2.64 4.80 22.82 3.71 1.63 0.00 0.00 0.16 0.54 0.00 0.00 0.00
JZLM5-15 Bead Green Han Guangxi 75.20 3.97 2.33 13.33 1.02 0.61 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.12 0.00 0.00 0.00
JS-TB-1 Eye bead   Warring States Jiangsu 72.04 3.23 4.48 12.54 2.87 1.10 0.00 0.00 0.13 0.19 0.00 0.00 0.00
JS-TB-2 Eye bead   Warring States Jiangsu 73.28 4.54 4.94 11.22 1.67 1.18 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.23 0.00 0.00 0.00
JS-TB-3 Eye bead   Warring States Jiangsu 71.36 3.45 4.61 13.16 2.90 1.12 0.00 0.00 0.12 0.21 0.00 0.00 0.00
HB-TB-1 Eye bead   Warring States Hubei 71.58 3.81 4.13 13.31 3.62 1.13 0.00 0.00 0.16 4.13 0.00 0.00 0.00
HB-TB-2 Eye bead   Warring States Hubei 69.44 4.10 4.39 14.33 3.68 1.15 0.00 0.00 0.22 4.39 0.00 0.00 0.00
HB-TB-3 Eye bead   Warring States Hubei 69.48 4.15 4.32 14.10 3.69 1.16 0.00 0.00 0.21 4.32 0.00 0.00 0.00
HB-EB-3 Eye bead   Chunqiu Hubei 71.23 5.63 4.23 12.16 2.47 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.11 4.23 0.00 0.00 0.00
JS-BB Glaze Brown Han Jiangsu 36.86 0.00 13.41 1.23 0.00 35.07 7.44 0.74 0.00 3.78 0.01 0.00 0.00
Sample Type Color Dynasty Place As Pd Rb Ni Ga Au Co Sn Zn Cl P Ba Mg Na
XY2-1 InsertC Brown Late Sui C Xi’an C 2.24 0.62 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
XY8-1 InsertC Dark blue Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.08 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
XY8-2 InsertC Brown Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
XY8-3 InsertC Green Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
XY8-4 InsertC Blue Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BB-1 InsertC Yellow Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.28 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.61 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BB-2 InsertC Blue Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BB-3 InsertC Green Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BB-5 InsertC Yellow Late Sui C Xi’an C 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-1 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.01 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-2 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-3 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-4 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Tang Xiaoling-5 Bead   Tang Xiao Tomb 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD02 Bead Dark blue Han Guangdong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.12 0.00 0.00
GD05 Glass vessel   Jin Guangdong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD04 Accessories (hairpin)   Ming Guangdong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD03 Accessories (hairpin)   Ming Guangdong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.00
GZH-1B Bead Light blue Han Guizhou 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
GZH-1C Bead Green Han Guizhou 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.00
GZH-10 Bead   Han Guizhou 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.06 0.00 0.00
44-18-35A Bead Yellow Han Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.07 0.00 0.00
44-18-35B Bead White Han Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.03 0.00 0.00
44-18-35C Bead Dark blue Han Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.30 1.11 0.00 0.00
44-18-36B Bead Yellow Han Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.46 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-40 Bead (olive shape) Brown Tang Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.17 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-37 Bead (olive shape) Light blue Tang Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-38 Accessories (bracelet) Green Ming Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
43-1-65 Accessories   Ming Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.09 0.00 0.00
44-18-43 Glass vessel Green Sui Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
44-18-42 Accessories (hairpin)   Ming Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.00
C26 Accessories (bracelet)   Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.57 0.00
WJ-05 Bead Yellow North Wei Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.00 1.38 0.85 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-06-B Bead Black North Wei Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.97 1.39 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-07-A Bead White North Wei Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.00 2.54 2.04 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-03-A Bead White North Wei Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.27 0.12 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-03-B Bead Black North Wei Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.52 0.33 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-02 Bead (hexagonal stick)   Yuan Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.05 0.00 0.00 0.58 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-08-B Bead White Yuan Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.73 0.54 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-10 Bead (rhombus) Blue Yuan Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.05 0.00 0.00 15.38 0.48 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-12 Accessories (hairpin) Blue Yuan Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.00 0.00 0.42 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
WJ-01 Bead (hexagonal stick)   Yuan Inner Mongolia 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.67 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS01 Chessbead White Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS02 Chessbead Yellow Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.06 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS03 Accessories (hairpin) Black Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.57 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS04 Bead (umbrella) Green Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.18 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS05 Accessories (hairpin) White Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS06 Accessories (hairpin) Black Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
BS07 Bi-disk Yellow Ming Shandong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.42 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ05 Accessories (earrings) Blue Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.20 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ09 Bead Brown Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 3.30 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ10 Bead with hole Blue Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.80 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ11 Bead with hole White Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.70 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ12 Bead with hole Brown Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ15 Bead with hole Red Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ17 Bead with hole Black Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.90 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ18 Bead with hole Green Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ19 Bead with hole Black Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.50 0.00 0.00 0.00
CQ20 Bead with hole Yellow Six Dynasties Chongqing 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
XZHM06-08 Glass piece Brown   Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.22 0.00 0.00 3.10 0.00
HBWKI-27 Eye bead Blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.43 0.00 1.43 1.10
HBWKI-30-A Glass tube Dark blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.08 0.00 0.43 0.00 1.09 0.24
HBWKI-30-A Glass tube Dark blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.08 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.96 0.00 0.95 1.12
HBWKI-36 Bead Green Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.15 0.00 0.71 0.00 1.54 0.85
HBWKI-48 Bead Blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.10 0.00 0.17 0.00 0.69 0.00 1.48 0.53
HBWKI-57 Glass tube Dark blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.17 0.00 0.77 0.00 1.57 1.96
HBXKI-T9 Eye bead Blue Warring States Hubei 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.17 0.00 0.73 0.00 1.14 1.17
HBXKI-T10 Bead Blue-green Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.88 1.19
Lgd4 Glass tube Blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.27 0.09
HNLY-09c Glass piece Green Warring States Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.68 0.00 1.17 0.70
HNLY-12 Glass vessel   Tang Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.17 13.30 0.00 1.17 0.00
HNLY-14a Bead Red Song Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.00 0.00 0.76 8.01 0.00 0.60 0.20
HNLY-14b Bead White Song Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.04 0.00 0.00 0.24 4.67 0.00 1.76 1.56
HNLY-07 Accessories (earrings) Dark blue Han Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.16 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.37 0.00 0.91 0.61
HNZZ-55 Accessories (earrings) Blue-green Xin Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.25 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.67 0.00 0.65 1.38
HNZZ-64 Accessories (earrings) Blue-green Han Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.15 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.81 0.00 0.20 0.00
HNZZ-73 Accessories (earrings) Blue-green Xin Henan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.39 0.00 0.43 0.69
GZH-7 Accessories (earrings) Light blue Han Guizhou 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.11 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.19 0.00 0.00
XJ-5A Bead Blue-green Warring States Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.03 0.36 0.82
XJ-5B Bead Blue-green Warring States Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.02 0.47 0.81
HB-3 Bead Light blue Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.51 0.14 1.75 1.81
SC-QT Eye bead   Warring States Sichuan 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.84 0.89
XJ-42A1 Eye bead Red Song Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.45 0.16 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A2 Eye bead Black Song Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.12 0.06 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A3 Eye bead White Song Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.19 0.08 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A4 Eye bead Green Song Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.42 0.05 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A5 Eye bead Yellow Song Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.32 0.09 0.00 0.00
XJ-42A6 Eye bead Green Song Xinjiang 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
GD01-1 Eye bead White Warring States Guangdong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.53 9.87 0.00 0.00
GD01-2 Eye bead Blue Warring States Guangdong 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.45 15.82 0.00 0.00
XZHM-06-01 Bead Green Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.77 0.13 0.57 0.96
XZHM-06-02 Bead Blue Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.94 0.20 0.90 0.64
XZHM-06-02B Bead Blue Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.48 0.19 0.67 0.75
FMLM26-2 Bead Green Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.42 0.15 0.45 1.12
XZHM-06-08 Bead Red Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.54 0.12 3.63 0.53
JZLM5-15 Bead Green Han Guangxi 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.81 0.13 0.40 1.71
JS-TB-1 Eye bead   Warring States Jiangsu 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.89 0.00 1.12 1.41
JS-TB-2 Eye bead   Warring States Jiangsu 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.77 0.00 1.22 0.85
JS-TB-3 Eye bead   Warring States Jiangsu 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.06 0.00 1.00 1.02
HB-TB-1 Eye bead   Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.17 0.00 0.86 1.12
HB-TB-2 Eye bead   Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.53 0.00 0.90 1.13
HB-TB-3 Eye bead   Warring States Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.72 0.00 0.88 1.18
HB-EB-3 Eye bead   Chunqiu Hubei 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.46 0.00 0.85 1.21
JS-BB Glaze Brown Han Jiangsu 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.47 0.00 0.00

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Du, J., Eckfeld, T., Yang, J. et al. A Sui-Tang dynasty woman’s crown: analyzing form, glass and class. Herit Sci 10, 45 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40494-022-00679-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40494-022-00679-5

Keywords

  • Potash-lime glass
  • Filigree glass
  • Kunlun M2 crown
  • Sui-Tang dynasty crown
  • Sui-Tang dynasty jewellery