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Place of Origin: Beijing, China

Date: Early 19th Century (Qing Dynasty)

Overall Height: 266mm (10 inches)

Reference: 451

Status: Available

Full Description:

This rare Qing Dynasty Imperial Guard’s quiver is covered in red velvet with applied copper-alloy mounts with traces of gilding. In addition to the main pocket, the quiver has no less than three rear, hinged pockets (an unusual feature compared to the usual two); and another pocket wrapped around the three hinged pockets for quicker draws.  These hold extra or special arrows.  Three large, stylised Chinese shòu 寿 (longevity) symbols sit prominently on the front in the position where on earlier quivers three slots would be present for the placement of the additional arrows[1]

An important quiver of matching adornment and similar form is in the Brooklyn Museum ( as part of a full costume[2]. The only significant difference between these two quivers is that the textile covering on the Brooklyn Museum’s example is what is known as suozijia— a silk brocade with a pattern of interlocking Ys (in imitation of archaic armour) which is usually reserved for Qing princely ranks only. We also presented a very similar but maroon velvet quiver, complete with arrows to lend the piece context, in our Hong Kong catalogue back in 2017[3].

A beautiful painting of Qinglong Emperor in ceremonial armour and on horseback, dated to 1739 or 1758 and painted by Jesuit missionary Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), gives us context for this type of quiver and the Manchu tradition of its use[4]. The Emperor wears the quiver on his right hip, presumably secured by a belt, with the arrows facing backwards.  We can see the quiver, like ours, is wedge shaped, has a main pocket and three small, rear pockets that contain two distinctive arrows with black-and-white fletchings—signifying them to be whistling arrows.  The main compartment contains seven arrows with feathers of the spotted argus: a large pheasant native to the jungles of Malaysia. These feathers are described in imperial regulations as phoenix feathers[5]


Private European collection


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