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It has been a long time since Ferrebeekeeper added a new post to the gothic category. In order to remedy that deficit (and perhaps to focus somewhat on the strange & troubling nature of time itself) here is a gallery of gothic clocks. Something about the ornate yet solemn gothic style seems particularly suited to instruments which measure the passing of time. Until recently, clocks were precious and expensive items and it was very appropriate to dress them up in stylish little reliquary-style cases. Additionally, like churches or crypts (which were frequently constructed in the same style), clocks betoken a world which transcends human understanding or control. Nineteenth century clockmakers particularly relished the gothic aesthetic so most of the clocks below are gothic-revival era objects from England, France, or Germany. However clock makers from before the 19th century also looked to medieval sacred conventions when crafting their timepieces (as can be seen in the ancient sconce clock from 16th century Germany). Perhaps even more strangely, modern clock-makers also frequently refer back to the gothic tradition. At the bottom of my gallery I have included some startling resin clocks made by contemporary manufacturers. The modern timepieces might have jumped from “gothic” to “goth” but they still resemble little shrines to the omnipresent and ineluctable force of time.
In Dynastic China the most important ceremonial objects around which the Emperor’s power was focused was not a crown but rather the imperial seals. However that does not mean that ornate jeweled crowns were not a part of court life. Phoenix crowns were worn by the empress and other exalted noblewomen on ceremonial occasions. These headdresses were adorned with intricate sculptures of dragons, phoenixes, and pheasants made from precious materials. The crowns were highly ornamental and were literally encrusted with gold, turquoise, kingfisher feathers, pearls, and gemstones.
First crafted in the Tang Dynasty, phoenix crowns changed many times in accordance with Chinese fashion but they found their greatest era of popularity in the Ming dynasty when the wearer’s status was indicated by the number of dragons, phoenixes and pheasants on her crown. The empress was allowed to wear a crown with 12 dragons and 9 phoenixes, but a less-favored concubine or minor princess might be forced to endure a mere 7 pheasants.
Phoenix crowns—or similarly elaborate jeweled crowns are also associated with weddings and the juxtaposition of the bride’s red robes (red is the super magic happy lucky color of China) against the bright blue of the turquoise and kingfisher feathers makes for a bold visual presentation.