A Seal To Display the Emperor's Respect And Obedience To Heaven

A symbolic work that was rarely used by the emperor

By The Palace Museum

Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven - View 1The Palace Museum

Made of jasper, this seal features a knob carved in the form of a crouching dragon.

It has a base of 14×14 cm, with an overall height of 15.2 cm and a knob height of 11.5 cm.

The attached yellow tassels.

Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven - View 2The Palace Museum

The base has an inscription of Manchu words in the style of the Chinese seal script. The inscription reads "Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven".

It is one of the twenty-five seals personally listed by the Qianlong Emperor as his most cherished seals. According to The Catalogue of Seals of the Hall of Union (Jiaotai dian baopu), the seal was used in the emperor's worship of Heaven. 

However, as far as current research suggests, this seal was merely a symbolic work since no archives or documents containing the seal's impression have been identified.

Seal of Imperial Sacrifices to Heaven - View 1The Palace Museum

It seems that it was rarely, if ever, used. In the eleventh year of the Qianlong reign (1746), the emperor confirmed in a classification of imperial seals that this seal is a symbol for the worship of Heaven. 

Two years later in 1748 when he released an imperial decree to re-engrave the Manchu inscriptions on seals into the Manchu seal script, this seal remained untouched and in its original form.

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