Arts d'Asie

Arts d'Asie

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 133. A monumental carved wood 'Cixi huangtaihou zhi bao' imperial seal, Qing dynasty, Guangxu period | 清光緒 御製木雕交龍紐方形璽   印文:慈禧皇太后之寶.


A monumental carved wood 'Cixi huangtaihou zhi bao' imperial seal, Qing dynasty, Guangxu period | 清光緒 御製木雕交龍紐方形璽 印文:慈禧皇太后之寶

Auction Closed

June 14, 03:20 PM GMT


60,000 - 80,000 EUR

Lot Details


Property from a European Noble Collection

A monumental carved wood 'Cixi huangtaihou zhi bao' imperial seal

Qing dynasty, Guangxu period

17.3 x 25.3 x 25.3 cm, 6¾ by 10 by 10 in.


Collection aristocratique européenne

Monumental cachet impérial Cixi huangtaihou zhi bao en bois sculpté, dynastie Qing, époque Guangxu



清光緒 御製木雕交龍紐方形璽


Collection Nicolai S. Muljukin (1876-1957), Russian Imperial consul to Shanghai (1914) and Yantai (1915-1918), thence by family descent.


Nicolai S. Muljukin (1876-1957)舊藏,俄羅斯帝國駐上海(1914)和煙台(1915-1918)使節,此後家族傳承

Featuring two dragons intertwined above swirling clouds, this enormous and rare imperial seal is a fitting testament to the last great ruler of imperial China. In a time when Chinese society was thrown into turmoil from both home and abroad, Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) strove to demonstrate her steadfast position as de facto ruler of China in all aspects of court life. Just as emperors had done for millennia, Cixi used her seals as signs of her appreciation for great works of art, as an affirmation of her own imperial power and, more broadly, as a symbol of the surviving greatness of the Qing dynasty. 

The inscription on the seal reads Cixi huangtaihou zhi bao (‘Treasure of the Empress Dowager Cixi’). This inscription is found on all official paintings and calligraphic works that originated in Cixi’s court but, given its imposing size, the present seal was likely only used sparingly on banners and large imperial artworks. The piece is finely carved from four pieces of tanxiangmu wood. Though jade might be considered more appropriate for an imperial seal, the weight of a jade seal of this size would have made its use impractical. Indeed, tanxiangmu seals are found in the collections of every Qing emperor and grace a number of important imperially commissioned artworks. See, for example, a supremely important Jingtian qinmin seal of tanxiangmu belonging to the Kangxi emperor, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 5th April 2016, lot 3101.

As Guo Fuxiang explains, Cixi used her seal collection as a means by which to affirm her supreme control and, as such, she regularly commissioned the carving of several seals of different sizes, materials and designs bearing the same inscription. By the end of her almost fifty years of rule ‘behind the screen’, the Empress Dowager had amassed an arsenal of at least one hundred and fifty-seven recorded seals; each piece a testament to her unrivalled power. See Guo Fuxiang, 'Fengzailongshang - Cixi taihou de baoxi [Phoenix above the dragon - imperial seals of the Empress Dowager Cixi]', Forbidden City, 2011 (10), pp. 64-73. A number of important paintings and pieces of calligraphy, most of which are attributed to Cixi herself, feature a smaller seal mark with the same inscription. See, for example, and a painting of peony flowers sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 8th October 2023, lot 3157. This inscription is also recorded in the complete collection of imperial seals in the Palace Museum; see Guo Fuxiang, Ming Qing di hou xiyin [Imperial seals of the Ming and Qing dynasties], Beijing, 2003, vol. 12, p. 1.

Very few large wooden seals of this tumultuous period still survive. An almost identical tanxiang seal with two addorsed dragons bearing the inscription Cixi huangtaihou yubi zhi bao (‘Treasure in the Imperial Hand of Empress Dowager Cixi’) is held in the Palace Museum, Beijing (accession number gu 00165802). Like the present lot, the seal was used for large banners and has smaller counterparts used on imperial artworks including the large piece of calligraphy of the character Fu (‘Happiness’), now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. no. 52.177.9). Compare another almost identical seal, with the inscription Cixi zhi bao (‘Treasure of Cixi’), found in Cixi’s mausoleum at the Eastern Qing Tombs, described in Yu Shanpu ‘Cixi yinxi zhi duoshao [How much do we know about Cixi seals]’, Forbidden City, 1998 (2), pp. 17-8; and another tanxiang seal of smaller size, likely also from Cixi’s collection, sold in our New York rooms, 23rd September 2020, lot 635.

The present seal has been acquired by Nicolai S. Muljukin (1876-1957) at the beginning of the 20th century and has stayed in the family ever since. Nicolai S. Muljukin was the Russian Imperial consul, successively in Shanghai (1914), then Chefoo (present day Yantai) from 1915 to 1918. 



根據郭福祥所解釋,慈禧皇太后是擁有寶璽數量較多的一位,這顯然與她幾度垂簾聽政,執掌清政權長達四十八年之久有關。作為最高統治者,慈禧太后利用御璽來鞏固其至高皇權。根據「慈禧寶藪」,慈禧太后擁有一百五十多方寶璽。「慈禧皇太后之寶」印文之璽有數方,以不同形式、材料製作。這些都反映出慈禧皇太后作為一名最高統治者特殊的心理狀態。 參見郭福祥,《鳳在龍上──慈禧太后的寶璽》,北京,2011年,第10刊,頁64-73。相同印文小鈐印可見於多件重要繪畫及書法作品,特別是慈禧太后本人之作。 例如,一幅牡丹花畫作,售於香港蘇富比,2023年10月8日,編號3157。 此類鈐印亦記錄在故宮寶藪全集中,參見郭福祥,《清代帝后璽印譜》,北京,2003年,第12卷,頁1。

清末時期的動亂,木料巨璽僅存不多。 可參考一方極相似之檀香木蛟龍紐璽,印文為「慈禧皇太后玉筆之寶」,北京故宮博物院館藏(藏品編號:故00165802)。 另一例「慈禧之寶」藏於清東陵外,見善浦所著《慈禧印璽知多少》,北京,1998年, 頁17-8;一方較小尺寸的檀香印章,售於紐約蘇富比2020年9月23日,編號635。