Pair of Imperial Bronze Dragon Seals: Qianlong Marks and Period
This large pair of dragon handled bronze seals date from the period of Qianlong (1735-1795), emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in China.
The rectangular base measures 8 ½ inches by 7 ¼ inches (21.5 cm X 19.5 cm). The dragon handle stands up about 3 inches tall (8 cm. ).
The top portions of the seals are covered with chiseled and engraved patterns of dragons and swirling lines representing the ocean or the sky. Standing on top of all this is the dragon handle.
The bottom of the seals are covered in archaic old Chinese pictogram script (see closeup photos). They also include traditional Chinese characters in one corner which are easily interpreted as Qianlong Reign Marks.
Some folks thought these might be paperweights because of their rather large size, compared to most seals of either bronze or jade. A recent article in the Jakarta Post referred to a very similar bronze seal as a “casted paperweight from the Qianlong Period”. See link below: (http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/04/04/scholar-objects-undervalued-small-treasures.html)
These bronzes may have served double duty, with an original purpose yet to be determined by deciphering the archaic script and the possibility of also having been used as massive scroll weights.
The Emperor Qianlong had a serious interest in painting and was known to dabble in it himself on occasion. Some scrolls are exceptionally long and might have required a substantial scroll weight to keep them open for viewing (or possible two or more to hold the whole long thing open in the privacy of one's palace).
On April 4.2010, one identical bronze seal/scroll weight was sold at auction in China for the amount of rmb 651.200. (About $108.000.00 us). The auction estimate had originally been 600.000-800.000 rmb (about $100.000-$130.000) for one single bronze seal.
The pair of bronze seals or scroll weights or “paperweights” are both in excellent condition. The buyer will not be disappointed.
They were purchased about 30 years ago in Southern California.
Note: Although the photos below make the the bronzes appear to be of different sizes, only the photos are of different sizes, not the bronzes themselves.
Additional note: there are a few very tiny spots of verdigris on one of the seals. This is not unusual for a bronze item that is over 200 years old. It is really not worth mentioning but we always like to have full disclosure so there are no surprises for the buyer.
Chinese Bronze Qianlong Imperial Seals