The ivory seal is carved in the form of a recumbent ram resting on a base of elliptical section. The seal face is carved in intaglio with the archaic inscription ‘Wuxian siliang’ 無限思量, meaning ‘endless pondering’. This term often occurs in ci 詞lyrics from the Song era on, for example, in songs by Yan Shu 晏殊 (991-1055), Xin Qiji 辛棄疾 (1140-1207), and Nalan Xingde 納蘭性德 (1655-1685).
The ‘wu’ character on the seal face is derived from the seal script of Shang and Zhou archaic bronzes and was changed from 无 to 無 when script became regulated. The archaic script was popular in the Tang dynasty and subsequently in the Ming dynasty in the context of the Confucian classics.
An example of a recumbent ram seal is illustrated in Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Hong Kong, 1986, pp. 128-129, Catalogue No. 98