QING DYNASTY, 19TH CENTURY
The vertical seal is rectangular in shape and formed from one side of a bamboo root. The seal is well patinated to a deep russet colour. The inscription on the levelled backside of the seal can be translated as Zishou zunxiong 子壽尊兄鑒之 ‘This is for the scrutiny of Kind Elder Brother Zishou’ [signed] Julin 匊鄰.
Julin 菊鄰 (written as 菊 but was also often written as 匊) is the personal name (zi 字) of Hu Jue 胡钁 (1840-1910), also known as Meng’an 孟安, was a native of Shimen 石門 in Zhejiang province. He was a prominent seal and bamboo carver, calligrapher, painter, and poet in both the classical verse (shi 詩) and lyric (ci 詞) forms and was also a successful second degree (xiucai 秀才) candidate in the 8th year of the Tongzhi reign (1869).
Zishou 子壽 might be the personal name of Huang Pengnian 黃彭年 (1824-1890), whose personal name was Zishou. Huang was a prominent high-ranking official, whose posts included acting governor of the Jiangsu province in 1889, and it could have been then that this carving was done for him by Hu Jue, nearby in the adjacent Zhejiang province.
The seal face reads: Zhongxiao wujia zhi bao 忠孝吾家之寳 ‘Loyalty and Filial Piety Are Our Family Treasures,’ which is a slogan used by many throughout the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing eras. Its origin is from the Shuzhong guangji 蜀中廣記 (Records far and wide from Shu [Sichuan]) (Siku quanshu ed.), 44:47a, where it is recorded that a certain Du Meng (from the Song Dynasty) exhorted his descendants:
忠孝吾家之寶 Loyalty and filial piety are our family treasures;
經史吾家之田 The Classics and Histories are our family fields.