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A Set of Nine Ruyi Scepters Engraved with the "Eight Immortals" Motif and the Chinese Character for "Longevity"

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: gilt copper
Dimensions: length: 41 cm, width of the head: 11.2 cm

These gilt copper ruyi scepters are engraved with open-work patterns. On the head, there are engravings of the Eight Immortals, spotted deer, and a crane with lingzhi fungus in its mouth symbolizing celebration of longevity. The bottom part is engraved with longevity medallions, the design of intertwining lotus and fretwork signifies continuation and perpetuity. The pronunciation of ruyi sounds like the wish that everyone can live as they choose and, therefore, it was the best gift and most auspicious object for display in the Qing Court on festivals.
  The ruyi scepters are tributes from Guangdong Province. It is very likely that Cantonese artisans used Western gilding techniques to improve the traditional way of applying thin gold sheets onto copper material known as gilding. The sheen and gilding make the copper objects look more sumptuous than those made in the Imperial Household Workshop, Suzhou, or Yangzhou.

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