Imperial Knife with Sheath


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 378

This elegant knife was intended as a personal accessory for a member of the imperial court, rather than as a weapon. It is part of a group of several known examples, all of which are similar in shape, size, and richness, but with each having some differences, particularly in the style and decoration of the sheaths. The gilding of their blades is a distinctive and highly unusual feature; the steel beneath the gold is purposely roughened to create a mottled, naturalistic surface to contrast with the refined precision of the accompanying hilt and sheath. At the base of the spine of the blade, the Qianlong mark is inlaid in gold letters: Qianlong nian zhi (Made in the Qianlong reign). The decoration on the sheath imitates European gold and enamel work.

Imperial Knife with Sheath, Steel, lapis lazuli, turquoise, pink stone, gold, enamel, Chinese

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.

Outer side