Ruyi Scepter, late 17th-early 18th century

Unknown artist, expand_more


Gift of Ruth and Bruce Daytonexpand_more  95.89

The form of scepter called ruyi (meaning "as desired" or as "you wish") is an ancient auspicious symbol that became the mark of a cultivated gentleman. It may have originated as a weapon or as a Buddhist implement, but old paintings often depict scholars holding ruyi scepters while engaged in conversation. By the Ming period those done in "organic taste" like this one were common literati accoutrements and they were often given as gifts.

Carved from boxwood in imitation of rootwood, with ruyi heads, this scepter is a classic example of the Chinese scholar's love of natural forms. The reverse side bears a carved poem along the shaft which reads as follows:
Crows gather in the tree-lined alley,
bestowed by imperial order, seated for tea.
Returning to the Jade Hall feeling refreshed.
A new crescent moon shines over
branches of thorn ferns.

Ruyi Scepter
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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