Bronze and silver inlaid ruyi sceptre

Length: 9 inches, 22.8 cm

Width: 2 1/2 inches, 5.8 cm

Bronze and silver inlaid ruyi sceptre

Bronze and silver inlaid ruyi sceptre

China, 19th century

A bronze and silver inlaid ruyi sceptre of small form at. The ruyi-shaped head is inlaid in thin silver wire with a large Shou symbol, surrounded by cloud scrolls. The shaft is similarly decorated. The back of the ruyi sceptre is inlaid with a spurious six-character reign mark of the emperor Qianlong, who reigned from 1736 to 1795.

The Chinese term ‘ruyi’ can be translated as “as you wish’, and implies that one’s wishes can come true if one carries a ruyi-shaped item such as this charming sceptre.[1] The Shou characters symbolise longevity. The charming size of this sceptre suggests that it was used as a weight for papers rather than carried as a sceptre. The bottom of the shaft is inlaid in silver with a six-character reign mark of Qianlong, but this is obviously spurious.

  1. Tse Bartholomew, T. Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2006, p. 254