Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

Qiqi: An ancient Chinese utensil symbolizing moderation and caution


The Qiqi (Chinese: 欹器 or tilting vessel) was an ancient Chinese ceremonial utensil that tilted when empty, stood upright when half-full, and tipped over when full, symbolizing moderation and caution.

In the Confucius Museum in the city of Qufu, east China's Shandong Province, there is a valuable painting from the Ming Dynasty depicting a famous anecdote by Confucius. When the philosopher first saw the tilting vessel, he told his disciples "the way of maintaining complete fullness is to reduce by ladling out": "Brilliant intelligence and sage-like knowledge should be guarded by the appearance of stupidity; meritorious achievements covering the whole empire should be guarded by an attitude of deference; courageous power comforting the age should be guarded by fear; and riches encompassing all within the four seas should be guarded by frugality. This is what is called the way of 'drawing off and reducing.'"

Search Trends