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China: Elaborate gold and jewelled 'zhijia tao' or finger stall favoured by Manchu...

IMAGE number
PFH2635974
Image title
China: Elaborate gold and jewelled 'zhijia tao' or finger stall favoured by Manchu noblewomen, late Qing Dynasty
Image description

Western descriptions of Chinese emperors, royalty and nobles often mention fingernails long enough to mark the person above any possibility of manual labor. These fingernail protectors, or guards, might be worn as a single jewel on the hand or in multiple sets. According to the San Diego Museum of Art: 'Fingernail protectors were worn by a very elite group-Manchu court ladies of the late Qing dynasty. Although scholars of Chinese costumes usually date fingernail protectors to the Qing dynasty, they are in fact characteristic only of the late 19th century. Portraits of early Qing court ladies show natural fingernails. Late Qing rulers, however, pursued a life of absolute luxury. For example, photographs and portraits of Empress Jixi (1835-1908) show her wearing two or three nail shields on each of her hands-a sign of her ability to rely upon servants to carry out any of her wishes, as she herself could perform no manual tasks'. The wearing of fingernail protectors was specifically associated with the Manchurian high culture of the Qing Dynasty. Han men were forced by law to wear Manchu clothing and to groom themselves by Manchu custom, whereas Han women were free to continue wearing traditional Han fashions. Manchu women felt that long fingernails were a status symbol they protected with fingernail covers that might be finely carved and inlayed with gold silver and gem.

Photo credit
Pictures from History / Bridgeman Images
Image keywords
China / Asia / women / fingernail sets / asia / historical images / fingernail protectors / historical / asian / mandate of heaven / finger stalls / jewellery / qing dynasty / woman / imperial china / historical pictures / chinese / fashion / jewelry / history / manchu / zhijia tao / qing

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Largest available format 3800 × 4686 px 5 MB
Dimension [pixels] Dimension in 300dpi [mm] File size [MB] Online Purchase
Large 3800 × 4686 px 322 × 397 mm 4.5 MB
Medium 831 × 1024 px 70 × 87 mm 439 KB

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