To prevent the use of books or other aids, scholars taking the civil service exam were frisked from head to toe, twice. Yet some test takers found ways to smuggle in help. This piece of silk above is a cheat sheet that could have been sewn into the lining of a robe or disguised as a handkerchief. The miniature text covering both sides includes more than 20 sample essays and prompts for typical exam questions.
Probably mid- to late 19th century AD
© THE FIELD MUSEUM, A115189D_006, A115189D_002, PHOTOGRAPHER KAREN BEAN