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Illustrated manuscript - Explanatory text about the winter court caps worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank
  • Explanatory text about the winter court caps worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank
    Leng Jian
  • Enlarge image

Explanatory text about the winter court caps worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank

  • Object:

    Illustrated manuscript

  • Place of origin:

    Beijing (made)

  • Date:

    1736-1795 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Leng Jian

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink on silk

  • Museum number:

    852A-1896

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty is an illustrated manuscript commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor (reigned 1736-1795). The main body of the commission began in 1750 and was completed in 1759. It was a conclusion of the Emperor's decade-long efforts to regulate the ritual codes and procedures as a means of ruling since his enthronement.

The page shows an explanatory text about the winter court caps worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank. The text is arranged in 16 columns.

As a major imperial commission, the book is of monumental scale. As many as 27 court painters and calligraphers were working on the commission under five editors-in-chief, Yilu (1695-1767), Jiang Pu (1708-1761), Wang Youdun (1692-1758), Guanbao (?-1776) and He Guozong (?-1766).

After editing and further expansion, the manuscript was printed by the Palace Publications Office in the Wuying Palace in 1766 It was finally included as part of the Four Treasures imperial library project in 1773. For that purpose seven copies were produced and stored in libraries across the empire.

The book consists of six parts - ceremonial vessels, scientific equipments, dress, musical instruments, insignia and weaponry. They contain more than 1300 leaves of illustrations and explanatory texts.

The V&A’s collection of the manuscript is incomplete. All its leaves, together with those in the British Library, in the National Museums of Scotland and in the National Museum of Ireland, may have been part of the version kept in the Wenyuan Pavilion library in the Yuanming yuan Summer Palace, Beijing.

Physical description

A page of "The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty", an illustrated manuscript commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor (r.1736-1795). The book consists of six parts - ceremonial vessels, scientific equipments, dress, musical instruments, insignia, and weaponry, containing more than 1300 leaves of illustrations and explanatory texts. The page shows an explanatory text about the winter court caps worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank. The text is arranged in sixteen columns.

Place of Origin

Beijing (made)

Date

1736-1795 (made)

Artist/maker

Leng Jian

Materials and Techniques

Ink on silk

Marks and inscriptions

'The Winter Court Cap worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank are carefully designed after the pattern of the present Dynasty. They are made of perfumed sable, and are covered with a red silken tassle. At the apex are three tiers of Oriental pearls supported with gold phaenixes, ornamented in each case with three Oriental pearls, and with seventeen precious pearls. At the top is a large precious pearl. On the tassel are seven golden phaenixes, each ornamented with nine Oriental pearls and twenty-one precious pearls. At the back is a golden Tartar pheasant, which is ornamented with one cat's-eye stone and sixteen precious pearls. From the tail of the pheasant hang three strings of pearls, in all one hundred and ninety-two pearls. Half way down the string is a gold clasp with a lapis-lazuli set in it and ornamented with four Oriental and four precious pearls. At the ends are pieces of coral. At the back of the cap for the protection of the neck there hang two bright yellow strings, to the ends of which are attached precious stones. The strings of the cap are of green satin.'

Dimensions

Height: 42.3 cm

Object history note

The main body of the commission began in 1750 and it was completed in 1759. As many as twenty-seven court painters and calligraphers were working on the commission under five editors-in-chief, Yilu (1695-1767), Jiang Pu (1708-1761), Wang Youdun (1692-1758), Guanbao (?-1776) and He Guozong (?-1766). After editing and further expansion in the ensuing years, the manuscript was printed by the Palace Publications Office in the Wuying Palace in 1766, and it was finally included as part of the Four Treasures imperial library project in 1773. For that purpose seven versions in total were produced and stored in libraries across the empire.
The museum's collection of the manuscript is incomplete. All its leaves, together with those in the British Library, in the National Museums of Scotland and in the National Museum of Ireland, may have been part of the version kept in the Wenyuan Pavilion library in the Yuanming yuan Summer Palace, Beijing.
The current page belongs to the first of four groups of leaves from the manuscruipt acquired by the museum. The museum purchased this group from a certain Walter H. Harris, the son of a builder, a director of Schweppes, in 1895.

Descriptive line

Page of the illustrated manuscript "The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty." It bears an explanatory text about the Winter Court Caps worn by the Imperial concubines of the first rank.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Medley, Margret. "'The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Ch'ing Dynasty' in the Victoria and Albert Museum." in Transactionsof the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol.31, 1957/59, pp.95-105.
Liu, Lu. "An Illustrated Manual for Regulating the Qing Society: A Discussion of Several Issues Relating to 'Huangchao liqi tushi'." in Palace Museum Journal (Beijing), no.4. 2004, pp.130-44.

Production Note

Reason For Production: Commission

Subjects depicted

Text

Categories

Manuscripts; Royalty; Ceremonial objects; Hats & headwear

Collection

East Asia Collection

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