Twenty Poems

A curiosity in the Backhouse collection, and an exquisite one, is this small book bound in jade. The text is unremarkable – twenty poems by the Emperor Gaozong (the Qianlong emperor, who reigned 1736–1796) – but the format is highly unusual. It is small enough to be kept in the sleeve of a gown, but the weight of the jade boards is so liable to tear the paper that it is completely impractical as a portable book.