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Lovers feeling ducky

IN Chinese tradition, mandarin ducks, or yuan yuang, symbolize love and fidelity between a couple as the male and female usually live and raise their offspring together and are very loyal to one another. It is believed by Chinese people that if a spouse dies, the other will not live much longer.

A carnelian pendant featuring mandarin ducks is on display at the Shanghai Museum.

The pendant was found in Xilin Pagoda in the city's Songjiang District, where a lot of gemstones were excavated.

The pendant measures 2.7-3.7 centimeters long and 2.8 centimeters high.

Ancient craftsmen sculpted two conjoined mandarin ducks on the gem, taking advantage of its natural shape and color, making the ducks appear vivid and lively, as if they were drifting in the water.

The bigger duck is male with the other obviously being a female. Both have folded their wings. The gradually changing color of the gem was used to depict the color of the feathers, indicating the talent and imagination of ancient craftsmen.

Feet were delicately carved at the bottom of the pendant and even the webbed toes are clear.

Mandarin ducks feature frequently in Chinese art, especially in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). However, this piece shows that ducks have inspired art since at least the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when the pendant was made.


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