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Antique Chinese Seals & Carved Stones Remain Popular Among Collectors

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Chinese Tianhuang Stone Dragon SealManor Auctions will sell a nice collection of Chinese seals, carved stone and boulders in the October 9th Fine Collectibles Auction. With the value of many collectibles feeling the bite from the current economic downturn, demand for quality Chinese antiques, such as seals, jade, jewelry, ivory, statuary, textiles and carvings has remained very strong. Much of this demand is fueled by growth of the Chinese economy over the past 10 years and the associated wealth created. In some cases, Chinese collectors are driving values to record highs.

 About Chinese Seals - in Relation to the Chinese Culture:

Chinese seals have been an integral part of Chinese culture for the past 3000 years. They were used in official and private capacities. According to a Han dynasty story, the first seal was given to the Yellow Emperor by a yellow dragon with a chart on its back. Another story says that it was given to Emperor Yao by a phoenix as the emperor was sitting in a boat. In any case, the receipt of the seal signifies the conferral of the Mandate of Heaven. He who has the seal possesses the Mandate of Heaven, in other words, he has been given the right to rule the empire. So when Tang, the first ruler of the Shang dynasty overthrows the last tyrant of the previous Xia dynasty, he seizes the royal seal and thus establishes his power.

Seals - Official Capacity:

At the time of the Han dynasty, the emperor had six seals, during the Tang he had eight, during the Ming over a dozen, and by the time of the Qing, there were several dozens of official imperial seals. The inscription on these official seals usually refers to receiving the Mandate of Heaven or being the successor of Heaven.

 Official seals have been conferred to officials as a token of their office and authority. These seals were usually small enough to be carried on the official's belt. There were regulations as to the material and shape of the handle of these seals: some had to be golden, some copper, some with a handle in the shape of a turtle, some of a camel. Up to the Eastern Han dynasty (25-330), the color of ink used to affix official seals was regulated depending on the position of the owner, some officials had to use green ink, some purple, some yellow etc.


Seals - Private Capacity:

Private seals are naturally unregulated, therefore they show the largest variety in content, shape, size, material and calligraphy. Despite of chinese carved stone bouldertheir varied characteristics, they can still be categorized based on their use.

Seals with names, pen names, pseudonyms etc on them were used as a signature by people in their private life. This is how artists sign their works and letters. Chinese literati commonly used a number of different pen names so identifying a person's name from a seal can be a tricky business.

Collector seals were mainly used for the purpose of authenticating pieces of art. Thus a seal of a famous collector or connoisseur would become an integral part of a work of art and could substantially raise its value. Thus in the course of several centuries, some Chinese paintings became covered by a dozen of different seals.

There were also various "leisure seals", which possessed thoughts or famous quotes.

The following is a partial list of Chinese antiques in Manor Auctions October 9th Fine Art & Collectible Auctions:

18213 CHINESE SHOUSHAN STONE DRAGON SEAL A Shoushan carved stone dragon seal incised with a cyclical date, "Ding Si", (1857 / 1917 / 1977). Finely carved dragon atop a stone boulder. Size: 3.7" tall Condition: VGC
18214 SHOUSHAN STONE SEAL "TWO MIRROR IMAGE DRAGONS" Large Shoushan stone carved seal. Two mirror image dragons. Green and purple hues. A few age cracks. Has a small repair to the tip of one of the dragons horns as well as a tiny chip to the nose of the same dragon. Size: 6.75" long, 5" tall Condition: VGC
18215 SHOUSHAN STONE CARVED SEAL "MAN HUGGING A PEACH" A finely carved stone seal made from Shoushan stone. Depicting a man hugging a giant peach. According to Chinese art symbolism, peaches symbolize longevity and health. Size: 4.2" tall Condition: VGC
18215a LOT OF 4 CARVED CHINESE SEALS The caliber of these pieces is one of grandeur. A Chinese seal having an intricate carving of a lion with its cubs with sides depicting cranes soaring through the sky. The second seal is column-shaped with an incised scene of a mountain. One face is filled with Chinese calligraphy. The second set of seals are yellow tinted, each with a bamboo motif. The taller seal is column-shaped and at the top rests a loop. Incised on the seal is a cyclical date, "xin yi" (1881/1941/2001), ninth month. The second seal is wedge-shaped and features a bamboo tree in relief. The seal reads, "bing zi", the cyclical date 1876/1936/1996, autumn, and the name Gu Tang. Size: 4.2" and 4.6" tall Condition: VGC
18216 CHINESE TIANHUANG STONE DRAGON SEAL A translucent tianhuang carved dragon seal. Incised to one side with a cyclical date "Ren Xu" (1862 / 1922 / 1982), Summer, sixth month. Size: 3.75" x 3" x 3" Condition: VGC
18217 CHINESE TIANHUANG STONE DRAGON SEAL Intricately carved tianhuang dragon seal. Semi-translucent "amber color" seal is of square section, carved and pierced to the top with a pair of coiled dragons contesting a sacred jewel. One face incised with a cyclical date "Ding Mao" (1867 / 1927 / 1987), Summer. Minor wear consistent with use and handling. Size: 4" x 3.3" x 3.3" Condition: VGC
18218 LARGE CHINESE TIANHUANG STONE DRAGON SEAL A semi-translucent tianhuang dragon seal of square section and incised with a cyclical date "Gui Hai" (1863 / 1923 / 1983), Beginning of Summer. Nice caramel color. Minor wear consistent with use and handling. Size: 4.2" x 2.75" x 2.75" Condition: VGC
18219 SMALL CHINESE CARVED TIANHUANG STONE SEAL A small tianhuang carved seal. Face gently carved. Size: 1.9" high Condition: VGC
18220 TIANHUANG DRAGON TURTLE SEAL The dragon turtle combines two of the four celestial animals of Chinese mythology. Associated with courage, determination, power, success, and support, all of which are recognized in this carving. Atop a strong base stands a powerful beast, which has been delicately carved of tianhuang stone. A magnificent piece with Chinese calligraphy around the base. Size: 5.5" x 2.3" x 2.3" Condition: VGC
18221 YELLOW TIANHUANG LION SEAL Mottled with red and orange, this seal's colors are only bested by the level of carving exhibited. An intricately carved Chinese lion and cub stand atop a base that features a bamboo pattern accentuated by decorative cavities. Size: 5.25" x 2.5" x 2.5" Condition: VGC
18222 PAIR OF TIANHUANG SMALL STONE SEALS Tianhuang small rectangular seals in a custom-made red stone box. Size: 1" each. Box is 2.2" long. Condition: VGC
18223 SINGLE CUBE-SHAPED TIANHUANG SEAL W/ FITTED BOX An immaculate example of tianhuang stone. Gorgeous in its honey color, this semi-translucent seal is incised with a cyclical date, "ren yin" (1842/1902/1962), tenth month. Included is a deeply stained, brown, box fitted to the seal. Size: 1.5" x 1.5" x 0.75" Condition: VGC
18224 CHINESE YELLOW-SKIN TIANHUANG STONE BOULDER A semi-translucent tianhuang stone boulder. Carving of 2 men on one side. Size: 2.75" tall Condition: VGC
18225 TIANHUANG STONE BOULDER A carved tianhuang stone boulder. Semi-translucent and carved with a man fishing. Size: 3.2" tall Condition: VGC
18225a CHINESE PALE GREEN SHOUSHAN BOULDER A quality carved, Chinese pale green carved Shoushan boulder depicting a mountainous village scene. Size: 3.5" tall, not including wood stand. Condition: VGC
18225b SHOUSHAN STONE CARVING OF BUDDHA JI GONG This piece required a mastering of Shoushan stone carving. Buddha Ji Gong relaxes in the shade and reaps the benefits of nature as he drinks from the flower of a tree. Intricate leaves and features are present throughout the entirety of this piece. Size: 5" x 3.5" Condition: VGC
18226 TIANHUANG-TYPE STONE PEBBLE SNUFF BOTTLE A small carved stone snuff bottle made from a tianhuang-type stone. Finely carved image of a small village. Size: 1.75" tall Condition: VGC, missing stopper.
18227 HAND CARVED BONE CATS SITTING ATOP A WOODEN BASE A pair of hand carved bone cats facing each other and sitting atop a square wooden base. Size: 5.5" Condition: VGC
18228 CARVED BONE CHINESE POLYCHROME CABBAGE WITH INSECT Ornately carved Chinese polychrome bone carved in the form of cabbage with a cricket or insect to the top. Size: 9" Condition: VGC

Manor Auctions is an industry leader in the acquisition, marketing and sale of original art, timepieces, fine jewelry, diamonds, coins, ivory, jade, militaria, historic documents and collectibles. Manor has representatives available nationwide and offers no cost consignment consultations. From a single item, to a specialty collection or estate - contact Manor Auctions for a consultation.

Tags: chinese, carved, condition, size, seal, stone, tianhuang, seals, dragon

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