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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 11701

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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Ruyi (sceptres) are traditionally said to have been used as backscratchers in early Buddhist times. They were later adapted by Daoists as a good luck charm due to their resemblance to the sacred lingzhi fungus, which is associated with longevity and good health. During the Qing period (1644–1912), courtiers used ruyi to denote imperial status and exchanged them as diplomatic gifts. This ruyi is however thought to have been taken from Yuanmingyuan (also known as the 'Old Summer Palace') by Anglo-French troops in 1860, following the Second Opium War. It was given to Queen Mary, consort of King George V, as a Christmas gift in 1922.