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An outstanding pair of imperial jade seals, 'Guxi tianzi' and 'Youri zizi'. Qianlong era, ca. 1780-1789 Made of white Hetian jade and of square form. The knobs delicately carved in openwork as crouching five-clawed dragons surrounded by clouds and holding a flaming pearl. Both with a faceted edge and rust-brown spots on one side, one with light marbling on one corner. One seal in zhuwen with the stamp "Guxi tianzi" in seal script, the other, slightly darker toned seal in baiwen with the stamp "Youri zizi". (2) When the Qianlong Emperor celebrated his seventieth birthday in 1780, the poem Qiujiang (name of a park in Chang'an) by the Tang-period poet Du Fu (712-770) came to his mind. One verse reads: "Since ancient times, life up to seventy has been rare" (rensheng xiqishi gu lai xi). Referring to this, Qianlong had the jade seal "Guxi tianzi" ("Seventy-Year-Old Son of Heaven") carved, of which further variants were continuously produced between 1780 and 1789. In the famous essay "Guxi shuo" ("An Explanation of guxi"), Qianlong shared his thoughts on the only six emperors before him to reach the age of seventy, including the founders of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. He came to the conclusion that he was the only true enlightened emperor in history and that his rule was superior to that of the others in terms of administration, justice, rites and music. At the same time, he had the seal "Youri zizi" ("Daily Diligence") carved, which was applied to many imperial paintings and calligraphies paired with "Guxi tianzi". H 3.4 cm; base 2.9 x 2.9 cm Provenance Private collection, Westphalia, in family ownership for several generations Exhibitions The "Youri zizi seal" was on permanent loan to the Berlin Museum of Asian Art from 1990 to 2024 (DLG 117-1990) and exhibited there temporarily (documented by a condition report from the museum) Literature For a discussion of the imperial seals on Qianlong's seventieth birthday, see: Ye Qifeng, 'Guxi tianzi - Qianlong di wannian zui deyi de yinzhang', Zijincheng 1981.1, p. 44

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