NAHA, Okinawa Pref. – Two restored lacquer plaques conveying congratulatory greetings from China’s Qing Dynasty rulers to a Ryukyu Kingdom ruler were unveiled to the public Sunday at Shuri Castle in Naha.
The plaques, gilded and framed in red and black lacquer, carry inscriptions expressing congratulations and well-wishes to King Sho Kei (1700-1751) of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which formerly ruled the Ryukyu Islands, now known as Okinawa Prefecture.
About 38 million yen was needed to restore the two plaques. Such plaques were usually hung inside rooms and near the entrances to buildings.
Ryukyu Kingdom rulers, who paid tribute to the Chinese emperor, transcribed the greetings Chinese rulers sent them during state celebrations between the 17th and 19th centuries.
A total of nine such plaques were given to the kingdom but were damaged by fire in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II. Only one plaque had previously been restored, in 1995. Each wooden frame measures about 1.5 meters × 3.8 meters, and weighs some 160 kg.
During the unveiling ceremony, there was also a performance of traditional Ryukyu music and a re-enactment of a ceremony in which Chinese missions were sent to the kingdom to legitimize each new ruler.
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