Jiayue Zhao


Section MS6, Ifor Duncan

Keywords: extinction, objects, materials, climate, design

Tian-tsui, also known as the Kingfisher feather art in English. It is a traditional Chinese gold and silver jewellery making process. Originated about 1800 years ago. Tsui is the feather of the kingfisher. The process is to use gold or gold-plated metal to make different base patterns and then the kingfisher back bright blue feathers carefully inlaid on the seat, to make a variety of jewellery.

Although it is not necessary to use a live bird to fetch feathers, it is still too cruel, causing irreversible harm to kingfishers. Kingfishers who have been de-feathered often die quickly. Even if nowadays there are a lot of techniques for making imitation feathers, many of them are similar to their cultural appearance. Nevertheless, people still believe that natural feathers are best. A kingfisher can only extract 28 feathers from its body, so a hair crown sometimes requires hundreds of kingfisher feathers. As a result, a large number of kingfishers have been plucked. Although people did not directly kill kingfishers, kingfishers who lose their feathers can only die in pain.

China faced an almost complete extinction crisis in 1933 as a result of a massive kingfisher hunt. At that time, China's last Kingfisher factory finally closed, because the kingfisher feathers have been out of the market. Under China's current law, the blue-eared Kingfisher is listed as a second-class protected animal. White-breasted jade and blue jade are not nationally protected animals, but they are still protected in some provinces.

In recent years in China, more and more fans of traditional culture have begun to try to restore traditional jewellery, and many of them will involve Tian-tsui jewellery. Some professional conservators may use the feathers of real kingfishers, and there are also some jewellery makers who buy kingfisher feathers, which also gives these bird traders a certain market, and many bird traders still use the internet to sell kingfishers in secret.

Kingfishers usually have one male and one female roosting. In normal times, the range of their activities is very large. They are birds that cannot be bred or domesticated. The space they need to survive is so large that they cannot be kept in cages at all. Therefore, the dead kingfishers seen by people must be wild. Although kingfishers not rare there has been a downward trend in recent years. On the one hand, it is because of the reduction of wetland areas and pollution, on the other hand, it is also related to bird catching.

Today, people are still killing kingfishers, and there are even rumours that the feathers taken off by live birds are the most colourful and gorgeous, which is a very cruel and terrible act. Therefore, I created a hairpin that mimicked the shape of an antique kingfisher hairpin, which showed a simple meaning, and the kingfisher that lost its feathers lost its life, just like this jewellery. I want to use this piece of jewellery to tell people, especially those blindly pursuing the restoration of traditional craftsmanship, that there is no killing without a transaction. When people no longer pay for the TianTsui jewellery, this brutal violence will gradually decrease. If people continue to kill kingfishers, the extinction of kingfishers is foreseeable.