An Imperial spinach green jade 'Bazhen Maonian' seal Qianlong
Lot 539
An Imperial spinach-green jade 'dragon' seal Qianlong, Bazheng maonian seal mark
HK$ 2 million - 3 million
US$ 260,000 - 390,000

Lot Details
An Imperial spinach-green jade 'dragon' seal Qianlong, Bazheng maonian seal mark An Imperial spinach green jade 'Bazhen Maonian' seal Qianlong An Imperial spinach green jade 'Bazhen Maonian' seal Qianlong An Imperial spinach green jade 'Bazhen Maonian' seal Qianlong An Imperial spinach green jade 'Bazhen Maonian' seal Qianlong
The Property of a Gentleman
An Imperial spinach-green jade 'dragon' seal
Qianlong, Bazheng maonian seal mark
The attractive dark spinach-green stone boldly worked of perfect square form, the upper surface surmounted by a recumbent mythical beast sprawled on all four hooves, the creature with the head of a dragon and body of a deer, its ferocious expression and sharp teeth framed by a pair of thick eyebrows and ears on the sides, with silky mane running down the back of its head, the body slightly twisted showing prominent ribbed spine ending in an upturned tail, the base deeply worked with four-characters Bazhen Maonian in zhuanshu, with evidence of red seal paste and traces of old paper label under the body.
4.5 by 4.5cm (7cm high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance 來源:
    A private English collection, by descent
    Bonhams London, 11 July 2005, lot 86

    The characters Bazheng maonian translates as 'Treasure of the Eighty-year old who concerns himself with the Eight Signs'.

    For a spinach-green jade 'dragon' Bazheng maonian seal of identical size, form and workmanship, see a seal from the estate of Emile Guimet, sold together with a Maoqin dian seal at Sotheby's Hong Kong, Legacies of Imperial Power. Qianlong Imperial Seals from the Estate of Emile Guimet, 8 October 2008, lot 2005.

    As Guo Fuxiang, researcher at the Palace Museum, Department of Palace History, Beijing, notes in the Catalogue, pp. 27-32, the Qianlong Emperor paid close attention to the production of birthday seals and harked back to antiquity. In 1789, as he approached the fifty-fifth year of his reign, which coincided with his eightieth birthday, the formulation of relevant seal became increasingly important to him. Recalling a passage from the Shangshu ('Classic of Documents'), when the Viscount of Ji, speaking to King Wu of Zhou about the Way of Heaven after the final defeat of the Shang, told him about the 'Nine Divisions of the Great Plan', the Qianlong Emperor decided to formulate an inscription based on this concept. The 'Nine Divisions of the Great Plan', considered by him as the ideal principle for Emperors to govern, consisted of: (1) living in accordance with the five phases (metal, wood, water, fire and earth); (2) attending to the five essential Matters (appearance, speech, observation, listening and thinking); (3) develop agriculture; (4) integrating the use of the five methods of keeping time (by year, month, day, stars and calendar); (5) the use of Imperial standards; (6) regulation of the three virtues (impartiality, hard and soft prevalence); (7) verification from examination; (8) thoughtful use of all signs (rain, rising sun, warmth, cold and wind); (9) use of the five blessings (long life, health, wealth, love of virtue and peaceful death) and use of the six extreme misfortunes (violent premature death, bad health, distress, poverty, being hated and becoming infirm and weak).

    Of all the 'Nine Divisions', The Qianlong Emperor considered the eighth division, the 'thoughtful use of all signs' to be in closest accordance with his own philosophy. Therefore he formulated the seal inscription Bazheng maonian, where Bazheng refers to 'Eight Signs' and Mao means an 'octogenarian'. The seal therefore served a dual function - to celebrate his eightieth birthday, and to push himself to continue to govern wisely, aided by heaven. Production of Bazheng maonian seals commenced in 1789, the winter of the fifty-fourth year of his reign and continued until 1794, and it is recorded that one hundred and forty seals were made.

    For another Bazheng Maonian seal sold at auction, see one of a pair of white jade seals, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 9 October 2007, lot 1303.

    清乾隆 蹲龍鈕「八徵耄念」碧玉璽
    印文: 「八徵耄念」

    愛米爾.吉美家族珍藏的蹲龍鈕「八徵耄念之寶」碧玉璽,與本拍品之紋飾、大小及雕工極為相同,此碧玉璽與另一件蹲龍鈕「懋勤殿」碧玉璽同出售於香港蘇富比,Legacies of Imperial Power. Qianlong Imperial Seals from the Estate of Emile Guimet專場,2008年10月8日,拍品編號2005。

    正如北京故宮博物院宮廷部研究員郭福祥在圖錄中所言(頁27-32),清乾隆皇帝對慶賀其大壽之玉璽製作及內容特別重視及別具心思。在1789年,正值在位五十五年,又恰逢八十之整壽,是天地之數自然會合,得此眷佑,值得大為慶賀,在製造相應玉璽上便更見重視。乾隆皇帝在《尚書》「洪範」篇上取得靈感,此篇章上記載武王克商後,向箕子請教天道之義,箕子以洪範九疇相告,分別是:「初一曰五行、次二曰敬用五事、次三曰農用八政、次四曰協用五紀、次五曰建用皇極、次六日乂用三、次七曰明用稽疑、次八曰念用庶徵、次九曰嚮用五褔、威用六極」。

    乾隆皇帝尤其覺得九疇中之第八「念用庶徵」與其思想一致,於是據此擬定用「八徵耄念」為璽文。對於此璽文之解釋,乾隆皇帝在《八徵耄念之寶記》云:「思有所以副八旬開袠之慶,鐫諸璽,以殿諸御筆,蓋莫曰《洪範》「八徵」之念。且予夙立願八十有五,滿乾隆六十之數,即當歸政。今雖八十,可不念乎?念庶徵即所以念萬民。《曲禮》「八十曰耄」,老而智衰之謂。茲逮八十,幸賴天佑,身體康強,一日萬機,未形智衰,不可不自勉也。」「八徵耄念」玉璽自乾隆五十四年(1789)便開始製作,質地為和闐玉,直至乾隆五十九年(1794),總量超過一百四十方。

    另一件「八徵耄念」為白玉璽,可見香港蘇富比,2007年10月9日,拍品編號1303。
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