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Time to wear this plaque
On set occasions, the Qing court had to observe abstinence. Plaques such as these were a reminder of this. This one reminds us of the plaque described in the sound bite. In this fragment, Der Ling (court lady to Emperor Dowager Cixi) relates to her audience that the Empire was in dire need of rain.
The Emperor and all those who accompanied him in prayer would prepare themselves for the ritual in the days before by observing abstinence. As a mark of their devotion and an admonition to themselves and other participants, they wore abstinence plaques.
That was not the only time they had to wear the plaques. They wore them whenever grand sacrifices and offerings had to be made.