Vivian Wang

Princesses

Cast glass, stoneware, gemstones (garnet, moonstone, citrine, crystal), and steel base, 29"h x 15"w x 15"d (including base), Item No. 18002,

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He Jia and He Jing were two of the ten daughters of Qianlong, the sixth Emperor of the Qing Dynasty who ruled China from 1735 to 1796. The Qing Dynasty lasted from 1644 to 1911 and is sometimes referred to as the Manchu Dynasty. He Jia was the daughter of the Imperial Consort Chun Hui and He Jing was the daughter of the Empress Xiao Yi Chun. 

“Princesses” portrays these girls when He Jia was thirteen and He Jing was two years old. They are shown in a formal court pose, wearing Imperial Qing dresses decorated with elaborate circular motifs and long skirts. The older sister, He Jia, is wearing a Manchurian inspired hairdo of exaggerated geometric shapes. He Jing’s classic two-bun Chinese hairdo was worn by young women until marriage. 

Discrepancies in the ages of daughters and sons was common as the Emperor begat children with many women, including his wife, the Empress, other wives without titles, many Noble Consorts, and concubines.

Any one of their sons could be chosen by the Emperor to be his successor. As for Imperial daughters, the emperors usually married them to Manchu high officials or to the elite of other ethnic groups in order to acquire support and cooperation. Imperial daughters thus played a significant role in shaping Qing territory and stabilizing Manchu rule.