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A Chaplet of Agalloch Eaglewood Court Beads

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Period: Qianlong reign (1736-1795), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: Agalloch eaglewood, coral, ruby, pearl from northeastern China
Dimensions: perimeter: 117 cm

This chaplet of beads has a coral "Buddha head" (fotou, the central piece). Each of the three "reminders" (jinian, shorter strings of beads attached to either side of the "Buddha head", were used to keep track of the number of recitations) consist of a dozen coral beads and a ruby end-piece. The longer string of beads, known as the "back cloud" (beiyun), attached the "Buddha head" and hangs down from the back of the neck; it also features a ruby and ends with an "eastern pearl" pendant. 

Following Ming dynasty (1368-1644) regulations regarding court clothing, rosaries continued to be used by the Qing court - not as device for counting recitations but as part of the imperial court attire. They were markers of social status known as "court beads" (chaozhu). Typically a chaplet of court beads is made up of beads, a Buddha head, reminders, a back cloud, and end-pieces.

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