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Three vases in archaic bronze forms carved on a stepped stand: in the centre, an incense burner, with upright handles and three animal-style feet, carved with a taotie, the domed cover with an oval button knob; to one side, a two-handled vase, also with t

Vibrant jades from around the world

China

Ruyi sceptre eighteenth century

RCIN 23692

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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The ruyi sceptre was allegedly used as a backscratcher in early Buddhist times. It was later adapted by the Daoists as a good luck charm due to its resemblance to the sacred lingzhi fungus. The Qing imperial court (from which this examples dates) used them to denote the imperial status of the ruler and favoured the use of ruyi sceptres as gifts. This was possibly one of a number of ruyi originally presented to members of Lord Macartney's Embassy of 1792-4 by the Qianlong Emperor.