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Jade Gui Tablet with Oath of Loyalty
Source: Henan Museum Edit: acf Time: 2021.07.20 09:17:06


Period: Spring and Autumn Period (770--476BCE)
Provenance: Unearthed at Xizhangji village, Wude township, Wenxian county, Henan, 1980
Measurements: 11.7 cm in height, 3.7 cm in bottom width, 0.2 cm in thickness

圭(Gui) also known as“珪(Gui)” in Chinese, the name of a special ceremonial object in ancient China. It derived from the stone spade and stone axe, featuring strip-formed, with a flat and straight lower end, and an equilateral triangle top end. Nowadays, a great number of strip-formed jade articles from the Neolithic Age to Shang and Zhou dynasties are named as Gui by the archaeologists. Stone Gui was mostly used for the ceremonial occasions such as the regular reporting to monarchs by the dukes of the vassal states, sacrificial ceremonies, and funerals. In Shang dynasty, stone Guis were most popular, yet in Zhou dynasty they were superseded following the sprouting jade Guis.

Preserved intact, this Gui is silver in color, arched in waist, and is written with 38 words in three lines with ink brush on the obverse side. The general idea of the characters, which are in various styles, is that “There is an edict on the Gui tablet: from now on, I dare not to disloyally serve His Majesty; in case of engaging in a plot with other conspirators, the Kings of Jin state in the heaven would scrutinize you, wipe out your clan.” The study suggests that the time of the edict is supposed to be around the fifteenth year in the reign of Duke Ding of Jin(497 BCE), before the Jin state  divided into three states of Han, Zhao, Wei, at the moment, the Duke of Jin kept his authority superficially, the person who swore the oath was much likely Han Jianzi, the chief of Han clan, one of the Six Ministers.