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
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).


  • 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。