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Walnut Court Necklace

The “chao zhu” is a court necklace that was worn by high-ranking Chinese officials. Based on Buddhist prayer beads, this necklace was introduced during the Qing Dynasty rein of Emperor Shunzhi, a devout Buddhist.

Like the prayer beads, these necklaces contain 108 beads, separated into groups of 27 by larger beads called “Buddha heads.” Typically, three strings of ten beads separated into groups of five hang around the neck – two on one side, and one on the other, however they are missing on this piece.  At the nape of the neck hangs a ribbon connecting a pendant in the center and a large bead at the end, acting as a counterweight.

The material of the beads determines the purpose of the necklace or the wearer’s status. The highest officials had beads made of semiprecious stones, and lower ranking officials had carved walnut beads, like this one, or glass.

Circa: 19th century

Origin: China

Material: Walnut, glass, and cotton string

Condition: Very Good, missing three

Dimensions: 26" long, 42" including counterweight

Inventory number: JL3832



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