A Seal that Claims the Mandate of Heaven

Demonstration of the Manchu rulers' orthodox legitimacy

By The Palace Museum

Seal of the Great Qing Receiving the Mandate - View 1The Palace Museum

"Twenty-five Seals" refers to those that the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) designated as symbols of imperial authority.

This white jade seal features a knob of a crouching dragon.

The overall height of the seal is 12 cm, with a knob height of 8.2 cm.

The jade is pure white and seems to possess a warm moistness. The crouching-dragon knob is simple with a smooth design.

Seal of the Great Qing Receiving the Mandate - View 2The Palace Museum

The square base has a bilingual inscription in Manchu and seal-script Chinese. The inscription reads "Seal of the Great Qing Receiving the Mandate".

This seal was considered of prime importance in a collection of twenty-five seals that the Qianlong Emperor personally listed as cherished accoutrements. According to The Catalogue of Seals of the Hall of Union (Jiaotai dian baopu), this seal expresses the Qing dynasty's claim to the Mandate of Heaven (Tianming) and thus their legitimacy to rule over China.

This seal had been preserved since the time of Taizong (Hong Taiji). In the thirteenth year of the Qianlong reign (1748), the emperor ordered for seals with Manchu inscriptions to be re-engraved with the Manchu seal-script, but this seal remained untouched due to its origin with the imperial ancestor. 

Seal of the Great Qing Receiving the Mandate - View 1The Palace Museum

Fashioned with superb artistry, the work reveals the proficiency of jade carvers at the inception of Qing dominion.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps