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A Qing dynasty collar with Buddha hand fruits

May 24, 2010

The fruit of the Buddha hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) has been used in Chinese art since the Tang dynasty (AD 618-906). The fruits used to be arranged in a pyramid on a porcelain plate and placed on a scholar’s table, as the fragrance was believed to promote clear thinking. This antique collar depicts such pyramids, showing that the collar was probably intended for a mandarin, an imperial official. Plants of ornamental or symbolic value were eradicated by the communists to favour the cultivation of vegetables. Although the communists burnt many imperial textiles, a small number have survived abroad in private collections. This collar was discovered in London, and was featured at the international exhibition “The Emperor’s Old Clothes” in 2010. It belongs to the Seehamongkol private collection and is on display if you visit Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The symbol of Dokmai Garden is “the friendly handshake between man and plants”, the plants represented by the Buddha hand (see the avatar to the right). We keep the plant in our garden, and it is the top attraction among our Thai visitors.

Eric Danell

Detail of a Chinese collar with Buddha hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) motifs. Qing dynasty ca 1880. The plant itself is available at our sales nursery – the Connoisseur’s Club.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2012 11:05 PM

    I’m interested in trying to grow this in Singapore Eric, but have read that it is sensitive to heat. What kind of temps are you getting in the garden there? Are you lowland or up in the mountains around Chiang Mai?

    • September 10, 2012 10:57 AM

      Dear Craig,

      Our temperature range during the past five years is 10-42 centigrades. We are situated at 350 meters so the valley is dry and hot. I think it is the heat in combination with rain that can be bad, but our specimen did fine last year. Go ahead, although eternally wet may not be its preference.

      Good luck!


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