Langweil, Paris, 1905.
Collection of Emile Guimet (1836-1918), ref. EG 2015 and Guimet Family Collection.
The seal face is inscribed with the characters jixing gaozhao吉星高照 (Auspicious Stars Shine On High), a proverbial popular saying still current today. In the former imperial context it meant 'Let good fortune bless the nation', while its popular meaning is 'May you be blessed with good fortune'. The jixing 吉星 (auspicious stars or sanxing 'three stars') are the fuxing 福星 (Star of Happiness), the luxing 祿星 (Star of High Rank), and the shouxing 壽星 (Star of Longevity), corresponding the three corresponding to the three Fushen 福神(Gods of Good Fortune/Blessings). An exhaustive search through the sources has failed to find any connection between the phrase jixing gaozhao and any structure within the Forbidden City, either of the Guangxu era (1875-1909), or of Ming or Qing date. However, the proverb, often associated with the coming of the new year, may here have been used in connection with the hopes for the new era that was inaugurated by the Guangxu emperor in June 1898, the Wuxu bianfa 戊戌變法 (reforms of the year wuxu), the so-called "Hundred Days Reform," which soon, however, ended with the reactionary coup led by the Empress Dowager Cixi.
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