The Lugard Tribute | China| Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 1910 | Silk scroll with a red sandalwood casket and silver mounts | scroll: 347 x 116.5 cm | On permanent loan from Major Richard Pinker | HKU.W.2001.1393
Casket: height 84 cm

The Lugard Tribute

TitleThe Lugard Tribute
PeriodQing dynasty (1644–1911), 1910
MediumSilk scroll with a red sandalwood casket and silver mounts
Dimensionsscroll 347 x 116.5 cm; casket height 84 cm
CollectionUniversity Museum and Art Gallery, HKU
ProvenanceOn permanent loan from Major Richard Pinker

Embroidered against a pale-yellow background, this silk satin scroll was a gift presented to Sir Frederick Lugard (1858–1945), the fourteenth British Governor of Hong Kong (1907–12), by eighty-four local Chinese shenshang (prominent ‘gentry-merchants’ who exchanged wealth for social status or official titles, and who were often actively involved in charitable affairs) in 1910. It was presented to Lugard in recognition of his contributions while governor, which included founding the University of Hong Kong and prohibiting the practice of abandoning corpses on the streets, which remained widespread in the nineteenth century.

Stored in an ornately carved red sandalwood casket adorned with bat-shaped silver brackets, the scroll is delicately embroidered with auspicious motifs, such as mandarin ducks and butterflies symbolising harmonious relationships and joyfulness. A striking pair of peacocks on the scroll, emblematic of culture and virtue according to the I-Ching (Book of Changes), likely echoes an inscription deyin xiangjiang (‘virtue shelters Hong Kong’) on the casket's lid, which glorifies the success and prosperity of Hong Kong during Lugard’s tenure.