barbaric jewelry

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Senior Member
Mandarin / the Shanghai Dialect

Some of them were dressed fashionably, and they said they couldn't for the life of them see why you should be dowdy just because you had written a novel; if you had a neat figure you might as well make the most of it, and a smart shoe on a small foot had never prevented an editor from taking your "stuff." But others thought this frivolous, and they wore "art fabrics" and barbaric jewelry.

From W. Somerset Maugham: The Moon and Sixpence

How can I interpret “barbaric jewelry”? How can jewelry be barbaric?
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Unless they had already been accused of wearing foreign attire or articles, I would suggest that "barbaric" would best be read as outrageous, grotesque, or gaudy.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To me it seems to represent a basic idea of unfashionable. You could dress fashionably, like the first people mentioned, or, if you were trying to emphasize your artistic pretensions and be different for the sake of being different, you could purposely wear something generally considered unfashionable, and therefore barbaric, in the eyes of those attuned to the finest details of the current fashions.
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