Emperor Qianlong’s Calligraphy Seal

Chinese character: 乾
Chinese character: 隆
Chinese character: 御
Chinese character: 筆Simplified Chinese: 笔
Chinese character: 之
Chinese character: 寶Simplified Chinese: 宝


July 2, 2017


In December of 2016, Emperor Qianlong’s seal sold for a world record price of €21 m (£18 m, $22 m) in Paris. This was the seal that he used to sign his own calligraphy and paintings.


Emperor Qianlong lived between 1711 and 1799, and was 65 years old when the United States became independent. When he died at 87, John Adams was the U.S. President. Emperor Qianlong was an avid art collector and an artist himself. He also loved using his seal to sign his work and collections. He had 1,800 seals made during his reign. (We’d love to make 1,800 stamps for you!)

A thousand of his seals are conserved in museums. This one at auction was just one of the 700 or so that disappeared during subsequent chaotic times in China. This particular seal featured nine dragons that symbolize supreme imperial authority. As a stamp, it is inscribed with 乾隆御筆之寶 (qián lóng yù bǐ zhī bǎo), meaning “Qianlong’s Royal Calligraphy Writing Seal” or “Royally Written by Qianlong Seal.” He used this stamp to sign his brush calligraphy writing and paintings.


Some have argued that the seal says, “Emperor Qianlong’s Paint Brush.” The 筆 (bǐ) character does mean brush, but in this context it is used as a verb meaning write or written. The character 寶 (bǎo) is known today as treasure, however, in this context, it means a seal. Royal seals were called 寶 in ancient China. Another often used character for a royal seal is 璽 (xǐ). Both can also be combined as 寶璽 (bǎo xǐ) to represent the same. A regular person’s seal is called 印 (yìn). This 印 character can also be used as a verb to mean stamp, print, or sign.


Emperor Qianlong kept a record book with impressions from his 1,800 seals. That’s how we know he had so many. The record book also allows experts today to know if a piece of artwork is authentic by comparing the seal stamped on the artwork to the record book.


Here’s a video about the Emperor Qianlong’s Calligraphy Seal. It’s in French, but enjoy the visuals.


Cachet impérial époque Quianlong (1736-1795) adjugé 21 000 000 € à Drouot le 14/12/2016


Your Calligraphy or Writing Stamp


Imagine having a stamp to sign everything you’ve written.


First of all, I’m happy to tell you that today you don’t have to be an emperor or spend 22 million to own your own personal art stamp!


The next question is: What wording and Chinese characters should I include in my calligraphy or writing stamp?


Name and Text:


You can tell us what you’d like to include on the stamp and we’ll translate it into Chinese-seal style characters and craft a beautiful stamp for you.




— Make my stamp in the emperor style using Imperial words.

— Make my stamp in a regular style using standard words.


Did you know . . . There are three main differences between a Chinese dragon and western dragon:


A Chinese dragon has no wings and yet is able to fly.

A Chinese dragon has a long body like a snake, not like a lizard.

A Chinese dragon is accompanied by cloud and water; it doesn’t spew fire.


A Chinese dragon’s body:


A Chinese dragon has rabbit eyes, deer horns, tiger paws, eagle claws, and fish scales. During Imperial times, 5-claw dragons were exclusively reserved for use by Chinese emperors. Everyone else, including other Chinese high officials and Japanese and Korean royal dragons, had three or four claws.


The Chinese character for a dragon is 龍 (lóng). It reflects the roaring thunder sound of a “loong” dragon in the sky.


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