My research takes me to unexpected places, in both the real world and cyberspace. I thought I’d share this image, found while trawling the internet in search of information about jade rings. These are images of Chinese jade archer’s rings. The archer’s ring is an important motif in my novel ‘The Concubine’s Child’.
It’s quite ironic that a tool of war evolved into a piece of statement jewellery. Originally worn by Chinese archers as early as 4000 years ago, these rings were usually carved from stone or ivory and worn on the thumb of the archer’s dominant hand, the one used to pull the bowstring. As well as protecting the archer’s hand, the ring provided a release mechanism. These utilitarian rings had an engraved slot or projecting tooth to engage the bowstring. Archery was a necessity in hunting and war but it was also a skill any self-respecting Chinese gentleman was expected to master and was part of the civil service examinations. However, over time archery became less important to ruling the nation and the rings became more of a status symbol. By the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1912) they were largely ornamental. Today antique archer’s rings are highly collectible and mass produced fakes highly visible on the internet.