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Striking Clock Encased in a Sandalwood Tower with Double Eaves (Zitan qian falang chongyan louge gengzhong)

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

Dimensions: height 150 cm, width: 70 cm, length: 70 cm

This clock takes the shape of a traditional Chinese tower with double eaves and terraces. The sandalwood frame is inlaid with a pattern of dragons and clouds, as well as featuring enameled decoration on the columns and balusters. The clock strikes at the quarter-hour, the hour and each traditional night watch. The first story of the building houses a gilded copper dial with the Qianlong four-character reign mark, above which are two smaller dials. The left dial indicates the night watches and the right dial specifies the twenty-four lunar segments of a year. The sounds produced by the clock vary in pitch to mark the different times of the day. The night watches chimed 108 times each night in accord with different lunar periods. With such a complex mechanical system, the clock had to be re-wound each day. The combination of Western timekeeping and traditional Chinese night watches was both ingenious and challenging to create. This piece is representative of the clocks made in the Forbidden City.

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