Two seals belonging to the Qianlong Emperor, with fitted stands and decorated box

Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign, ca. 1780
Seals: jade; stand: wood, possibly zitan; box: wood, possibly zitan, with semiprecious stone, mother-of-pearl, silver, and gold inlay
H x Diam (a: seal): 3.6 x 3.8 cm (1 7/16 x 1 1/2 in) H x Diam (c:seal): 3.4 × 3.5 cm (1 5/16 × 1 3/8 in) H x W x D (e & f:assembled): 9 × 13 × 7.8 cm (3 9/16 × 5 1/8 × 3 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Anonymous gift
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Jade, Tool and Equipment


China, dragon, emperor, Qianlong reign (1736 - 1796), Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911), seal script

About 1780
Hongli, the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799; reigned 1735-1796), about 1780 [1]

Puyi (1906-1967; reigned 1908-1912), Emperor of China [2]

To 1945
Puxiu, relative of Puyi, by descent, to 1945 [3]

From 1945 to 1978
Private collection, Washington, DC, acquired from Puxiu in 1945 [4]

From 1978
Freer Gallery of Art, given by a private collector in 1978 [5]


[1] The objects were probably made for Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799; reigned 1735-1796), circa 1780 (see Curatorial Notes 3, 4, and 5, Jan Stuart, 1991-1995, in object record).

[2] The donor acquired the objects in 1945 from Puxiu, a relative of Puyi (1906-1967; reigned 1908-1912), the last emperor of the Qing dynasty. According to Puxiu, the seals and the covered box had belonged to the Qing emperor, Puyi (see Curatorial Note 2, T. Lawton, 1979, in object record).

[3] See note 2.

[4] See note 2.

[5] The object was transferred from the Freer Study Collection to the Freer Permanent Collection, on March 3, 1978 (see Curatorial Note 9 in the object record).

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Hongli, the Qianlong emperor 1711-1799
Dr. John Alexander Pope 1906-1982
Puyi, Emperor of China 1906-1967, reigned 1908-1912


These seals, which belonged to the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736-1795), read respectively: "heavenly ability" and "rare achievement to reach seventy years old." Seals, which can bear personal names or commendatory phrases, are symbols of ownership and authority as well as aesthetic objects, and their carving constitutes a special branch of calligraphy.  In use a seal is pressed into a vermillion paste and then stamped onto paper or silk to leave bright red impressions of the characters. The box bears several poems by Qianlong, which he composed in different years. One concerns his receipt of the seals; another, which appears on the front of the box, is about tiger hunting and relates to the design on the top of the box.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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