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The Eastern pearl (dongzhu) is a freshwater pearl produced in the lower reaches and tributaries of the Songhua River in northeast China. Large, round Eastern pearls were used in crown ornaments and court necklaces while irregularly shaped ones were used in inlays. In the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), emperors, empresses, and empress dowagers enjoyed the exclusive privilege to wear court necklaces made of these pearls for major ceremonies.
This strand is made of 108 peals, including eleven small pearls; thirty turquoise beads; seven coral beads; one ruby for the pendant on the back; one sapphire, one ruby, one tourmaline, and one jadeite bead for dangling embellishments; eight groups of seed pearls; twelve groups of coral seed beads; and eight crystal beads. Stored in a black lacquered case, the item has a yellow label bearing the title Emperor Wenzong Xian—posthumous names of the Xianfeng Emperor (r. 1851–1861).
Website version edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying