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The Imperial Jade Seal


Ch'ien-lung emperor and his imperial jade seal

As a mark of possession, generations of Chinese emperors impressed their imperial seals on the works of art in their collection. This practice culminated in the Ch'ing dynasty. The Ch'ien-lung emperor, who ruled for much of the 18th century, personally directed the designs and productions of the imperial workshops and through his connoisseurship exerted a profound influence on the arts.


Crafted from green jade, this square seal is surmounted by a knob, crafted in the shape of twin reclining dragons, which anchors a yellow tassel. The six-character inscription is carved, in three lines. The jade seal inscribed with the phrase "Treasure of the Rare and Ancient Son of Heaven," carved on the orders of the Ch'ien-lung emperor, symbolizes both his patronage of the arts and his elaboration of the age-old practice of seal imprinting.

Editor: Feng Hui

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