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Green Jade Fasting Pendant with Coral and Seed-Pearl Beads

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Dimensions: 3.7 cm x 5.6 cm; total length 37 cm

Chinese ritual practice required fasting before major sacrificial ceremonies as a way of showing respect and piety. During the fasting period, plaques with the inscription ‘fasting’ (Chinese zhaijie) were often displayed indoors as a reminder for individuals to restrain their desires and maintain piety so the gods would be pleased and the ritual would achieve its desired effect. The Yongzheng Emperor (r. 1723–1735) thought such tangible reminders could be made into small portable pendants as better reminders and urged his officials to wear them. Pendants used in the imperial courts were exquisitely crafted and, thus, became fashion accessories as well as personal reminders. This fasting pendant made of green jade is inscribed with ‘fasting’ in Chinese characters on one side and the Manchu for ‘fast and abstain’ (Manchu bolgomi targa) on the other. Possibly because the craftsman was not familiar with the Manchu writing system, the words are not accurately rendered.

Website version edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying

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