14-05-30-2143NE02A Qianlong jade.jpg
The Imperial Qianlong white jade ‘hinge-fitting’ that sold for £410,000 at Bonhams.

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The intriguing 18th century object measured 7½in (19cm) when fully extended and was unusually designed with two hollowed tubes each carved in mirror image to suggest an archaistic mask.

The precise meaning of the object is not known but it is thought the constructed elements of a hinge-fitting made for the Qianlong Emperor might have served to remind him of his duty to be scrupulous and precise in his own rule.

Bearing a Qianlong six-character fang gu mark, it was entered for the sale on May 15 with a £200,000-300,000 estimate.

The buyer's premium was 25/20/12%.