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Chiming Clock Encased in a Sandalwood Pavilion

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Period: Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Date: undated
Artist(s): Imperial workshops

Dimensions: height: 100 cm, width: 51 cm, length: 41 cm

Carved in sandalwood, this clock takes the form of a traditional Chinese building with terraces but decorated with Indian lotus patterns. The yellow enamel dial features five keyholes for winding the clock and is inscribed with characters that read "Made in the Qianlong reign" (Qianlong nian zhi). Such a design is typical for dials produced in the Imperial Workshops during the Qianlong period. From left to right the keyholes correspond to the chimes marking the quarter-hour, hour, and traditional Chinese night watch (there were five night watches at two-hour intervals per night). An incised gilded copper plaque ornamented with bats and clouds, a combination that means, "Five Blessings support Longevity," frames the clock. A square pavilion above the clock houses two cooper bells stacked upside down one on top of the other. A wooden hammer rests against the bells. The hammer is linked to the clock's mechanism and strikes the bells to mark the quarter-hour and hour. During the daytime, the stacked bowl-shaped bells chime to indicate the hours and quarter-hours, while bells of a traditional shape mark the night-watches during the evening. At the back of the clock case there are dials for adjusting the night watch chimes and for manipulating the clock's ability to indicate the correct season based on the Chinese calendar.   
  This clock is a typical Qianlong period timepiece, as seen in the size and dark color of the wooden framework as well as its elegant proportions. Clocks, such as this one, owe their accuracy in timekeeping to European clock makers employed in the Qing Imperial Workshops.

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