Asian Tribal Art - Opera Handcuffs, China

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Opera handcuffs
Wood, lacquer, paint, gilding
Early 20th century
Largest is 13.5" (34.2 cm) wide by 4.5" (11.4 cm) high
Ex. Tess Johnston, author and historian

These curious objects were used in Chinese operas as stage handcuffs, presumably during a scene where someone is arrested for a crime. From correspondence with Tess Johnston: "I have seen them used in Shaoxing Operas -- which are a softer and nicer (I think) version of Peking Operas. Such operas flourished in the last century and now have almost completely died out. They were bought by an old gentleman some 30 years ago off a cloth lying on the street in old town here."


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