Jade carvings of this extravagant form were a technical tour de force. While hanging chains and movable rings had become part of the Qing craftsmen’s repertoire, twin tubes and hinged elements were more challenging as they required each part to be carved individually and once assembled the whole piece would need to seamlessly move as one. These ornaments were carved as two hollowed containers connected through a central join and a separate bar that was fitted in a slot carved through the three elements. The containers and separate bar were held together by two jade pins.
It is interesting to note that while the Qianlong Emperor believed the metal prototypes to be measuring instruments, recent archaeological evidence suggests that they were instead used as fittings. Copper double-tube fittings were excavated at the royal tomb of prince Liu Sheng (d. 113) and his wife Dou Wan in Mancheng, Hebei province, and illustrated in Mancheng Han mu fajue baogao [Excavation report of Han tombs at Mancheng], Beijing, 1980, vol. 1, pl. 114, where the author explains that they were used to join wooden posts in buildings, p. 121.
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