Kangxi had about 130 seals for identifying his consultation of documents or expressing his opinion. The soapstone, easy to carve and in nice shade, was used extensively during his reign thanks to a new abundance of this mineral. His successors will prefer the jade.
On April 6 in Hong Kong, Sotheby's sells as lot 3102 a Kangxi seal in soapstone.
The mark 5.9 x 5.9 cm is clear, symbolic and effective. The central inscription indicates Yuanjianzhai as the location of its use. This inscription is flanked left and right with the undulating silhouettes of the tiger and the dragon and terminated at both ends by the symbols of heaven and earth, yin and yang, between which the emperor himself is the only intercessor.
This seal may have been shown in 1690 to the missionary Jean-François Gerbillon. Invited in the Yangxingdian to inspect the imperial seals, he observed that a possibility of textual and graphical duality was practiced in very few marks.
The Yuanjianzhai seal is topped in a lighter hue of the soapstone with a mythical beast that is altogether powerful and caring, for an overall height of 6.9 cm from that piece.
SOLD for HK$ 49M including premium