Humans have been decorating their bodies for thousands of years.  The people of San
Luis Obispo's 1870's Chinatown were no different.  Some forms of personal
adornment are meant as signals to other people of the community (such as a wedding
ring).  Some items were used to enhance beauty (such as a bracelet or broach). Some
items served a utility purpose as well as being decorative (such as a pocket watch and

The recovery and study of personal adornment items gives the archaeologist a much
better understanding of the value system of the community, a sense of the
community's structure, and insight into the economic status of the individuals who
once owned the them.

An amethyst ring, a brass ring with a Chinese
character, and a silver wedding band are
pictured here.  It is likely that each had a
separate function or meaning for the person
who wore these rings.  The amethyst ring may
have been worn to enhance beauty or as a
memento in memory of another family member
or friend.

The carved wooden Chinese character on the
center ring signifies "Long Long Life" and was
the kind of gift that a son or daughter might
have given an older parent or grandparent as a
birthday gift.

The silver wedding band would have been a
symbol of commitment and love to the person
wearing it as well as a sign to the rest of the
community that this person was not available
for mating.
Site maintained as a public service by Archaeological Research, PO Box 1353, Lucerne, CA 95458.
Personal Adornment
History and Prehistory of Lake County
and Beyond
Wu Bowls
Opium Use
Historic Features

Bracelets, chains and the silver "peas-in-a-pod"
pin shown here were most likely used to
enhance beauty.  Most of the bracelets in the
Chinatown collection are in the form of chains
(copper, brass, or gold-plated).  There are a few
copper, bone, glass and carved stone hoop
addition to telling us a little about the status
of their owners, pocket watches can often be
excellent indicators of the period represented
by the archaeological feature in-which they
were found (trash pit, outhouse, house
foundation, etc.).  When a watch was taken in
for repair or cleaning, the watch jeweler often
engraved the date of the work and his initials
on the inside of the case.  The silver case on
the watch in the photo is rusted shut and it
will be necessary to send this watch to a
special metal restoration lab before an attempt
is made to open the case to inspect it for dates.
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
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