Archer's Ring (清 扳指)

Signed by ivory carver Wen Zhao Chinese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 378

In Manchu archery, the bowstring is pulled back with the thumb of the right hand, making a thumb ring essential both to protect the thumb and to ensure a smooth release of the arrow. In addition to their practical function, thumb rings were also worn regularly as personal adornment. All Manchu archers, even the highest ranking aristocrats, favored plain thumb rings of bone or antler for use in hunting and warfare. At other times, however, they wore thumb rings that were highly decorated and made of fragile or precious materials, such as jade, amber or ivory.

This ring is inscribed with a line of poetry by Su Shi (1037–1101), a major figure of the Song dynasty, and the name of the ivory carver: The chirping swallows from the eminent Xie family gather at the magnificent hall. Carved by Wen Zhao.

Archer's Ring (清   扳指), Signed by ivory carver Wen Zhao (Chinese), Ivory, Chinese

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