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Cup and cover reign of Qianlong, 1736-95

Pale green jadeite | 10.0 x 10.3 cm (including base/stand) | RCIN 11636

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  • The cup with spreading sides, rounded below and everted towards the rim, and thick-rimmed base. Above and below, borders of gilt ruyi-heads. Inside, a medallion, with pine, prunus, bamboo and Buddha’s hand citron, with a surrounding ruyi-head border repeated below the rim. Incised round the sides, a poem of 22 lines, filled in red, also appearing on the lid. The inscription as follows:


    Composed by the Emperor in the tenth lunar month of the
    bingyin year [equivalent to 1746 in the Western calendar] during
    the reign of the Qianlong emperor.
    Two seals, reading:



    On the base, the six-character reign-mark in seal script, incised and filled in red. The cover, an inverted, smaller, shallow dish with foot, inscribed and decorated to match; the inside left plain.

    The cup is inscribed with the poem Sanqing cha written in kaishu (standard script). The poem extols the virtues of what was reputedly the Qianlong emperor’s favourite herbal drink, known as Sanqing cha (‘Tea of Three Purities’). This is a herbal infusion made from melted snow, plum blossom, Buddha’s hand citron and pine nuts. On a chosen evening, during the first month of the Chinese year, the Qianlong emperor would invite his ministers to sit with him in the Chonghua Hall and compose poetry whilst drinking this infusion. The poem is found in the Belles-lettres treasury of the Siku quanshu (‘Complete Library of the Four Treasuries’), in part one, chapter 36 of the subcategory of imperial poems. The Manchu imperial family were followers of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. This is reflected in the content of the poem, although much of the terminology used relates to the Chan (Zen) sect of Buddhism.

    Text adapted from Chinese and Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen: Volume III.


    Acquired by Queen Mary c. 1938-45. Listed in Queen Mary's Private Property Vol. X, no. 23.

  • Medium and techniques

    Pale green jadeite


    10.0 x 10.3 cm (including base/stand)

    8.7 x 10.3 cm (excluding base/stand)