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Gold Cup with Jewel Inlay: Eternal Territorial Integrity

Qing Imperial Workshop

The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum

The gold cup has an upright mouth and a round body. It is made in the ding style with a tripod for its base. The body is covered with interlocking floral patterns and inlay of pearls, rubies, and sapphires as the central feature of the flowers. Either side features a kui-dragon ornament, each inlaid with a large pearl. The three feet are fashioned in the shape of elephant heads with slender tusk embellishments and curling trunks as the feet.
Fretwork is engraved around the external edge of the mouth. “Eternal Territorial Integrity” (Jinou yonggu, lit. "gold vessel, eternally stable") is engraved in seal-script characters at the center of one side of the cup. The other side has an inscription reading "Made during the Qianlong Reign". The character ou denotes an ancient name for a type of vessel. The ancients used this type of golden vessel to represent the completeness of the sovereign's territory and prosperity of the land.
At midnight at the beginning of the new lunar year, the Qing imperial palace would hold a writing ceremony, during which the emperor used the Eternal Territorial Integrity Cup. The emperor would pour auspicious wine into the cup, display it on the table, and write couplets for the Spring Festival by candlelight. The characters for “blessing” (fu) and “longevity” (shou) often appeared in his couplets as a prayer for the peace, health, and prosperity of the country. Thus, this cup was an important ritual vessel in the imperial court. It was designed with stringent standards and fabricated and manufactured using the most exquisite gold. The cup was manufactured by the palace workshops per imperial orders in the second year of the Jiaqing reign (1797). At the time, the Qianlong Emperor had already retired from his imperial duties, but he maintained a prominent role as the Emperor Emeritus, hence the cup's inscription denoting a Qianlong-reign date of production.

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Details

  • Title: Gold Cup with Jewel Inlay: Eternal Territorial Integrity
  • Creator: Qing Imperial Workshop
  • Physical Dimensions: height: 12.5 cm, height of foot: 5 cm, diameter: 8cm
  • Provenance: Qing imperial collection
  • Type: metalwork

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