Kuei Tablet


Kuei Tablet
Late Lung-shan Culture to Erh-li-t'ou Culture (ca. 2200-1600 B.C.)
Length: 24.6 cm, max. width: 7 cm, thickness: 1.2 cm

??The jade of this kuei tablet is light chestnut in color, but the wider end is brown and the narrow end black. This lustrous jade has sides that broaden down to an unsharpened blade. Two holes were drilled through the narrow end. The smaller one is near the edge and was drilled from one side. The larger hole is closer towards the center and was drilled from both sides. The engraved decoration in low relief is composed of beast masks above a band of intricate designs. The upper part (shown inserted into the wooden stand) has different mask designs on either side.

??Both sides were engraved with a poem and imperial seals (at the top and bottom) of the Ch'ien-lung Emperor (r. 1736-1795), and the tablet rests in a specially designed wooden stand.

Traditional studies on kuei tablets in "Illustrated Study of Ancient Jades"

??...mention that this kuei tablet had a hole in the middle and that it was a ritual ornament held by the emperor when venerating the sun. The hole was used to fasten the kuei as part of the emperor's regalia.