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Jadeite Ring

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Dimensions: Diameter: 2.2 cm

This jadeite ring was recovered from an iron cabinet in the Hall of Mental Cultivation (Yangxin dian). It may have been left behind when the last emperor Puyi (1906–1967)—also known as the Xuantong Emperor (r. 1909–1911)—and his empress departed the palace. The inner band is a layer of gold with the seal marks 'Baohua' and 'Pure gold' (zujin), which indicates it was made by the Baohua workshop in Beijing at the end of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911). The outer layer of the ring is composed of two bands of jadeite with a band of pearls on each side. The Palace Museum collection includes a number of items of jewelry bearing the 'Baohua' mark, suggesting the jeweler was favored by the imperial court.

Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908) is wearing a jadeite ring with embedded pearls of the same design on her right ring finger in her portrait by the American painter Katharine Carl (1865–1938). The oil painting was sent in 1904 to the United States for display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis, Missouri and was finally added to the collection of the Smithsonian Institute.

Website version edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying

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