QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
each of classic ruyi sceptre shape, the ruyi-shaped head and arched shaft inlaid with cloisonné enamel plaques, the head cast with a central raised panel of conforming section decorated with a shou character flanked by a pair of scrolling stylised bats, all against a finely carved floral meander, the shaft finely reticulated and carved with archaistic scrolling designs intertwined with bats, lotus blooms and rings, the rectangular mid-section with a raised panel similarly decorated to the head, flanked by a pair of inlaid medallions enclosing the shou character, the lobed end pierced with a floral scroll and inlaid with a plaque of conforming section decorated with a single stylised bat, the underside of the plaques decorated in dark blue champlevé enamel, the mid-section with a bat suspending a tasseled lantern above a stylised scrolling lotus spray, the medallions similarly decorated, and the end with a single lotus spray
This very fine pair of cloisonné ruyi scepters rank among the finest produced during the Qianlong period in this medium and only a handful of similar scepters have been offered on the market, see for example one sold in these rooms, 31 October 1995, lot 667, and a related example of similar size but with a slightly larger cloisonné handle and terminal sold in Christie’s London, 8 June 1992, lot 210.
Cloisonne ruyi scepters seem to appear first during the 17th century and quite a number of examples can be found in institutions and collections around the world, see for example three scepters in the Uldry Collection, illustrated by Brinker and Lutz in Chinesisches Cloisonné – Die Sammlung Pierre Uldry, Zurich, 1985, pl. 163-165. 17th century scepters, such as the Uldry ones, have typically simple tapered stems with pointed terminals and the protuberances along the stem at the handle and terminal are typical of the later scepters, as discussed by Sir Harry Garner in Chinese and Japanese Cloisonné Enamels, London 1962, p.92.
During the 18th century and particularly under the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, the practice of giving scepters as birthday presents for the Emperor must, if once can judge from the large number of scepters that have survived in various media including jade, lacquer, porcelain and cloisonné enamel, have been very popular.
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