Imperial Jade Chime


Imperial Jade Chime



Shaped like an inverted “L” resembling a carpenter’s square, this slab of green nephrite is known as a qing, a stone chime, or lithophone. Inscriptions along with the edge date this chime to the 29th year of the reign of the Qianlong emperor, equivalent to 1764 CE, and identify the pitch as taicou. This musical instrument is thus the seventh among a set of 16 imperial stone chimes. Suspended on a rack in two rows of eight each, the chimes made harmonious sounds when struck with a wooden beater and were complemented by a set of bronze bells of similar number. Bells and chimes once played an important musical role in the court rituals of the Qing dynasty.
The qing, identical front, and back, is decorated with a gold lacquer painting of two imperial five-clawed dragons contending for the flaming pearl among clouds. A suspension hole is drilled through the flaming pearl, strung originally with a thick silk cord dyed in imperial yellow.
When China annexed the jade-producing Xinjiang province in the 18th century, large pieces of jade were mined from the mountains of Yarkand. This facilitated the production of larger objects, such as sets of jade chimes.
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection


Chinese Art

Object Type

Musical Instrument


Dark green nephrite with gilt decoration


Qing period




1764 CE




H 89 cm, W 64 (at base) cm