QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD CYCLICAL DATE CORRESPONDING TO 1774
HEIGHT: 5.5CM; WEIGHT: 174G
The seal is carved from a block of tianhuang soapstone, with its characteristic ‘radish veins’; carved in shallow relief at the top with a flowering branch of chrysanthemum issuing from rockwork, flanked with two butterflies in flight. One side of the seal is incised with a poem entitled ‘Water Pavilion in the Ninth Month’, written by the Song dynasty poet, Han Qi (1008-1075) which reads:
|莫嫌老圃秋容淡||Do not abandon the Autumn garden because of the fading scene.|
|更有黃花晚節香||The yellow chrysanthemum still gives up its fragrance in the late season.|
甲午長至小垞 The two-character signature, Xiaocha , identifies Sheng Ben 盛本, who was a scholar
official active during the Qianlong period. The winter solstice of the Jiawu year corresponds to the
39th year of the Qianlong reign (1774).
The adjacent inscription carved in relief is translated as 能後百花容。小垞 ‘Blooming after all other flowers have faded, Xiaocha’.
The seal face reads Qiuyue ru shulin 秋月入疏林, ‘The Autumn moon rises in the sparse forest’. The seal is well-patinated to a caramel tone accented with the relief carvings in a bright orange colour.
A tianhuang seal of similar irregular shape was exhibited in the Baur Collection in Geneva and is illustrated in One Man’s Taste: Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion, Geneva, 1988, p. 17, Catalogue No. J.33.
Y.C. Chen 陳玉階 (1922-2012)