In the Imperial Qing court, the consort chosen to be empress would be presented with a ruyi sceptre as a recognition of her newfound status. On the day before the wedding, such sceptres would be placed at the four corners of the marital bed to confer blessings on the consummation. As an imperial object, the ruyi was ubiquitous in court; as the sceptre has no practical function and could express good wishes suitable for any occasion, it was a gift often bestowed to foreign ambassadors by the emperor, whom himself would receive the same gift during birthdays and coronations.
The history of ruyi dates back to the Eastern Han dynasty. According to the Ming Daoist Manual Tianhuang Zhidao Taiqing Yuce: Xiuzhenqi Yongzhang, ruyi was first invented by the Yellow Emperor or Huangdi as a weapon against his rival Chiyou, and afterwards took the form of a flower with a shaft, with which evil spirits can be exorcised and good fortune bestowed.
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