A rare Imperial white jade 'trigram' archer's ring
Qianlong The fine white stone skilfully worked in relief with archaistic motifs, featuring a square cartouche with triple-lined trigram pattern framed by a pair of mythical beasts, the design wrapped around an additional band of archaistic 'S'-scrolls at the waist. 3cm diam.
The qian or trigram symbol worked on on the current seal is unique in representing the Qianlong Emperor, bearing different levels of interpretation and depth of meaning.
The trigram represents the principle of yin and yang manifested in the form of open and solid lines. Yin refers to the female and all that is passive, negative, dark and feminine; yang refers to the male and all that is active, positive, light and masculine. The polarity of three solid lines above one another is called the 'Pure Yang', which represents Heaven. The Qianlong Emperor was associated with the 'Son of Heaven', hence his closest personal belongings would contain the 'Pure Yang' symbol. Such representation embodies the zenith of power and the complete reign over all celestial, human and terrestrial planes.
The different polarities of a trigram also represent different levels of rankings within family relationships. The 'Pure Yang', which is located at the highest polarity, refers to the position of the 'Father'. This bears significance to the Qianlong Emperor as the Taishang Huangdi or 'the Emperor Emeritus', when he abdicated his position as the supreme ruler of China.
The trigram motif also appears on a white jade Taishang Huangdi seal dated to the year 1796, the year after the Qianlong Emperor took the title of Emperor Emeritus, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 9 October 2007, lot 1301. See also the same motif on a zitan stand mounting a Han dynasty jade bi disc from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat collection, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2009, lot 1808.
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