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The first
artwork I selected was the “Serpent Labret with Articulated Tongue”; the artist
of this piece is unknown. I was looking forward to this the most because this
piece was used to advertise/promote the Golden Kingdom exhibition at the Getty
Museum. The picture of this piece was everywhere; it was on the wall, signs,
stairs, maps, and pamphlets. Just by looking at the pictures I saw and not
knowing what it was, I thought that this piece was a hair accessory, like a
hairpin because of its long handle. However, I was wrong; after finding out
what this really is, the Serpent Labret with Articulated Tongue is a labret or
mostly known as lip plug. This piece was used by higher authorities such as
politicians and soldiers as a sign of power and achievements on the
battlefield; just like pins and medals given to soldiers and military veterans
in today’s modern society. What I like the most about this labret is its
design, the tongue sways side by side whenever its wearer moves, it can also be
retracted since the serpent’s tongue is a movable piece. It’s not just a stiff,
simple labret but a moving, classic piece which gives its wearer a
sophisticated and elegant look. This labret is made from gold which reveals
that the person who wore this was a person with authority, a ruler who people
respected. The face and body of the serpent are highly detailed, the fangs and
the eyes look menacing just like a real serpent. One could tell that this
labret was made delicately, specifically created to a person with power.

The
second piece I chose was the “Tabard with Lizard- Like Creatures”. I didn’t
know what a tabard is before I saw this piece. Like the labret, the artist of
this garment is also unknown. This tabard is made of feathers, there are six
lizard-like creatures on the front, outlined in black. These lizard-like
creatures are colored in bright blue and orange, and the rest of the tabard is
colored in yellow. There are also brown feather fringes connected to the end of
the tabard. It is interesting to know how feathers in the past were considered
rare and precious, just like gold and jades. Wearers of this precious garment
were worn by people with high status. Making this kind of tabard requires a lot
of effort as workers must look for birds with vivid colors which means they
have to hunt for colored birds. Sometimes they have to travel just to find the
specific color they needed. The way they made this feather tabard needed a huge
amount of work: first, colored feathers are tied into strings which then sewn
into the base of the tabard. What I really like about this feathered tabard is
its bright colors and also the fringes at the bottom. The wearer of this
garment would have looked like a mighty warrior or a very high-class person.

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The last
piece I chose is the “Bimetallic Effigy Spoon” which is also from the Golden
Kingdom exhibition, the artist is unknown. This spoon is made out of gold and
silver sheets which were then shaped and assembled. On the spoon, there is a
male figure sitting on a stool, holding a conch shell. The conch shell is made
of silver, which attracts the observers’ attention as its different color
highlights the conch shell. What interests me the most about this effigy spoon
is the way it was used in the past. This spoon was used to inhale drugs or to
be more specific, hallucinogens in rituals and ceremonies. It also doesn’t look
like the spoon we use today, which reveals that it was not used for eating but
for religious practices. The spoon is also highly detailed, from its head (the
eyes and mouth) to its body (fingers, legs, and toes) are meticulously detailed.
Ultimately, gold and metal sheets, as well as feathers, were highly valuable in
the past. They were used for special occasions, and only higher authorities could
use and wear these kinds of materials. It is fascinating to know how these
pieces of artwork are discovered and are now well preserved in museums like the
Getty Museum.

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