Eight Panel Jade Screen

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 19th century
Jade, wood, gold pigment
H x W x D (overall): 188.5 x 33.8 x 2.7 cm (74 3/16 x 13 5/16 x 1 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Transfer from the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Minerology, Smithsonian Institution
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Furniture and Furnishing, Jade

Screen (eight-panel)

China, Daoist Immortals, kingfisher, landscape, lotus, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)
Provenance research underway.

In China, decorative screens often subdivided the rooms in grand homes and also were placed behind the chair of a dignitary or honored person. Screens blocked drafts; however, by the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), their greatest importance had become symbolic-to signify status. The spinach-green jade panels of this screen are painted on both sides with gold on top of underdrawing in red that was used to enrich the sheen of the gold. Made for a wealthy private home, the general style of this furnishing reflects a decor that was also popular at the late-Qing imperial court.
The screen's decoration conveys auspicious messages, and the variety of seasonal flowers suggests passage of the yearly cycle. Many of the scenes are charmingly naturalistic, such as the upper-left panel with lotus flowers and kingfisher birds. Images in other panels are more overtly symbolic, such as a long-tailed magpie on a plum branch, which creates the rebus, or visual pun, "May you have happiness up to your eyebrows." Cranes, which stand for long life, appear in another scene. Landscapes, figures, and immortals decorate the reverse side of the screen. 

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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