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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world

China [Asia]

Ruyi sceptre eighteenth century

RCIN 23692

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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Jade has long been prized in China, and carvings in its nephrite form date back to Neolithic times. However, the stone remained largely unknown in the West until the eighteenth century. This jade carving is a ruyi (sceptre), a time-honoured symbol of authority. It may have been among the gifts sent by the Qianlong Emperor (r.1736–95) to George III (1738–1820) in response to the first diplomatic Embassy to China, led by Lord Macartney in 1792–4. The Qianlong reign was a period of technical accomplishment in jade and hardstone carving and a wide range of pieces were produced.