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A FINE IMPERIAL GILT-HIGHLIGHTED INCISED SPINACH-GREEN JADE TEN-TABLET BOOK

Details
A FINE IMPERIAL GILT-HIGHLIGHTED INCISED SPINACH-GREEN JADE TEN-TABLET BOOK
DATED QIANLONG 42ND YEAR, CORRESPONDING TO 1778, AND OF THE PERIOD
Comprising:

(a) front page incised and gilded with a pair of descending
five-clawed dragons above breaking waves around an un-inscribed
panel, the reverse incised and gilded with a ten-character
inscription

(b) end page incised and gilded with one ascending and one
descending five-clawed dragon contesting a flaming pearl
amidst cloud scrolls

(c) five pages numbered 1-5 in regnal numbers with incised
and gilded Manchu script

(d) three pages numbered 6-8 in regnal numbers with incised
and gilded Chinese script, the first bearing the Qianlong mark
and regnal date

each page 11 5/16 x 5in. (29.4 x 12.5cm.), original yellow silk and gold thread brocade cover and liners
Provenance
William Boyce Thompson

Lot Essay

The book is dated the sixteenth day of the third month of the forty-second year of Qianlong, corresponding to 1777, and was made to commemorate the death of Qianlong's mother, Empress Xiaosheng, in the same year. There is a later ten-character inscription of posthumous veneration by the Jiaqing Emperor

A similar jade book in the collection of the Forbidden City records "that in the thirty-sixth year of the reign of the Emperor Qianlong (1771) he honored his mother, the Empress Dowager Chong Qing, with a laudatory title to celebrate her eightieth birthday", Wan Yu et.al., Daily Life in the Forbidden City, 1988, no. 19, where it is noted that according to Qing court regulations jade books and seals were presented to an empress, empress dowager or grand empress dowager, sometimes in lieu of a gold book or seal, when she was appointed or honored with a laudatory title. Jade tablets inscribed with essays outlining a deceased emperor's achievements were also used when conferring the title of honor to the late sovereign. A jade book of this latter type, completed in the first year of the reign of the Emperor Qianlong (1736), honors the first Qing emperor, the Emperor Shunzhi (1638-1661), and with its gilt-wood box was included in the exhibition, Imperial Life in the Qing Dynasty, The Empress Place, Singapore, Catalogue, pp. 28 and 29

William Watson in Chinese Jade Books in the Chester Beatty Library, discusses and illustrates a group of fifteen jade books of various dates, and another, dated the first year of the reign of the Emperor Qianlong, was included in the exhibition, Treasures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, China Institute, 1979, Catalogue no. 27. See, also, a ten-tablet jade book recording the conferment of a posthumous title by the Emperor Shunzhi upon his great-great-grandmother, the consort of Giocangga sold Christie's, London, December 12, 1988
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