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Gold Pagoda For Containing Hair

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Period: Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: gold, semi-precious stones
Date: 1777
Dimensions: height: 147 cm, stand: 70×70 cm

The mini pagoda is composed of six parts. Each level is inlaid with turquoise, coral, and semi-precious stones. Inside the pagoda, a gold hair container rests on a white sandalwood stand, the surface of which is inscribed with a Buddhist six-character prayer and decorated with Buddhist eight auspicious symbols. The pagoda is supported by a red sandalwood stand carved with lotus petals. The reign mark on the stand indicates that it was made in the Qianlong era.   
  In 1777, the Emperor's birth mother the Empress Dowager Chongqing died in the Garden of Perfect Brightness (Yuanming yuan). To express his filial respect to his deceased mother, the Qianlong Emperor ordered a mini gold pagoda produced for storing the strands of hair from the Emperor Dowager's head when she was still alive.   
  The pagoda uses more than three thousand ingots of gold and was produced by the Imperial Workshops. Selecting the design of the pagoda himself, the Qianlong Emperor assigned his senior officials Fu Long'an (1746-1784) and Heshen (1750-1799) to supervise the production. It took three months to make the pagoda that was placed in a Buddhist Chapel in the Palace of Longevity and Health (Shoukang gong), where the Empress Dowager had been living. The gold pagoda combines welding and carving to create a distinctive shape and exquisite patterns, which reveal the sophistication of the metal work of the Qianlong reign.

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