A Tiger Tally, or Fu Jie, is an Imperial Court order usually held by court officials to facilitate military or diplomatic operations in olden days. Usually, a Fu Jie was made of either bamboo, wood, bronze or jade. The order would be engraved onto its face and then the entire piece was split into half. The official who was to be given a Fu Jie (the action being Jia Jie) would be given one half. The other half could be used as a form of verification.
Here are some photographs from the Hong Kong Middle Kingdom museum featuring two tiger tallies that were on display (introduction and Middle Kingdom photos by Battleroyale).
Along with the Fu Jie the association with tigers is also explained.
“The tiger is, for the Chinese, the King of the wild beasts. Its prowess has been magnified through history, until it has become invested with so many attributes that nothing can overpower it.”
In olden times, Chinese soldiers were sometimes dressed in imitation tiger-skins complete with tails. As they advanced into battle they would shout loudly, believing that the enemy would be terrified of them as if they were actual tigers.”
Tiger heads were painted on the shields of soldiers, on the covers to portholes of ships, and embroidered on court robes. The tiger emblem represents magisterial dignity and sternness, and became the insignia for some grades of military officers.”
Here are some additional Tiger Tally photographs along with simple descriptions. If you come across any additional Tiger Tally photographs please send me an email so they can be added to this page.
Tiger Tally from the Spring and Autumn Period.
Tiger tally of Yangling – Qin
A dry measure for grain
8.9 cm long, 2.l cm wide, 3.4 cm tall.
White jade tiger tally, used as a credential
Bronze Tiger Tally
March 7, 2014