Ruyi (Wish Granting Sceptre)
18th century CE
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection
Ruyi means ‘as you wish’. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), many such wish-granting sceptres were made as presents for the emperors, empresses and for courtiers of high rank. They were presented on special occasions such as birthdays and weddings.
Although the sceptres that are in the shape of sacred fungus (lingzhi) symbolizing immortality are themselves auspicious objects, the Chinese further embellished them with auspicious symbols and motifs of blessings. By decoding the symbols on the sceptre, one could understand the occasion for which it was made. The Ruyi were created in many mediums such as cast gold or silver, semi-precious stones like jade and nephrite, wood and lacquer.
This sceptre has a landscape with Shoulao, the God of longevity with an attendant. He is holding a branch of a peach tree symbolizing longevity. The handle is carved with the fungus of immortality, peach tree, bamboo and narcissus representing the phrase “the heavenly immortals bring birthday greetings”. The sceptre has yellow tassels which show that it came originally from the Qing Palace where yellow is the imperial colour. It is encased in a beautiful wooden box.