Sino-Manchu seals of the Xicom Emperor

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Tweet by Sulaiman Gu:

The Chinese of the seal on the left says:

Wéiní shòumìng zhī bǎo


"Treasure of Winnie's investiture"

The Chinese of the seal on the right says:

Bāozi fèngtiān zhī bǎo


"Treasure of Steamed Stuffed Bun receiving Heaven's Mandate"

The transliteration of the corresponding Manchu inscription is at the bottom of each scroll.

It is only befitting that an emperor has his royal seals.


Selected readings

[h.t. Fraser Howie; thanks to Pamela Crossley]


Addendum from Jichang Lulu

Wherein Winnie disrobes and reproduces bountifully

More Xiic Manchu stamps by Sulaiman Gu.


  1. David Marjanović said,

    February 12, 2020 @ 7:16 pm

    I approve.

  2. Victor Mair said,

    February 12, 2020 @ 11:44 pm

    From Peter Perdue:

    This is very funny! He has put into Manchu the equivalent of the Chinese phrases mocking Xi Jinping:

    The left hand one says: "the treasure portraying Xi Winnie receiving the Mandate of Heaven." [Alludes to the CCP media censoring images of Winnie the Pooh, because online critics compared Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh [Obama is Tigger].

    The right one says: "The treasure granted by Heaven to Xi Baozi" [baozi the stuffed bun, Xi ate some ate some at a local restaurant in Beijing and got a big media show out of it].

  3. Michael Watts said,

    February 13, 2020 @ 4:29 am

    Would Xi Jinping not be expected to eat 包子 in the ordinary course of events? Is there something more notable about "Xi Jinping ate 包子 at a local restaurant" than there would be about "Xi Jinping ate at a local restaurant"?

  4. Michael Watts said,

    February 13, 2020 @ 6:15 pm

    Followup question: were the actual imperial seals carved with the individual name of each emperor (necessitating new seals for every emperor), or were they longstanding possessions of the throne which each new emperor received and used in turn? (The same seals for every emperor.)

  5. PRW said,

    February 13, 2020 @ 7:25 pm

    @Michael Watts,

    Apparently there was originally just the one Great Seal, but it was lost, and the Qing dynasty preferred to make a bunch of new seals all the time.

  6. Jichang Lulu said,

    February 16, 2020 @ 6:51 pm

    My comments on the seals, their likely models, the Manchu text and the relevant names of Xi here.

  7. Victor Mair said,

    February 17, 2020 @ 8:15 am

    From Jichang Lulu, author of the previous comment:

    Many thanks for sending this. Hilarious. Yes, it seems well done unless something escapes me. My quick comments below.

    A precious item.

    These are based on authentic imperial seals. Words referring to a Qing emperor and that dynasty in the original seals have been replaced with two of his successor's many names.

    Seals that could have served as models for these can be seen as items nos. 11 and 12 in this blog post by Andrew West, with pictures of a hundred 1932 seal-themed Palace Museum postcards.

    Here is a recent paper by Zhuang Sheng 庄声 on early Qing imperial seals, which also shows West's 11th postcard, as well as others with similar language to the ones at hand.

    For the parts directly copied from original seals, the Manchu text and its correspondence with the Chinese are therefore as correct as the original. The original is arguably as normative Manchu as it gets: imperial seals with wording in use since the beginning of the dynasty. More below on the new items added to refer to Xi.

    The Manchu script is correct as far as I can see. It uses one of the available Manchu fonts. The right-hand seal uses a larger font, which means the first column (on the left) doesn't display properly; it remains perfectly readable though.

    The transcription is standard. It has perhaps too many capitals (every word except case endings), but that is surely understandable when dealing with Imperial paraphernalia — indeed associated with a ruling monarch. I'm not aware of any universally accepted capitalisation standard for Romanised Manchu.

    Literal translation of the text of both seals:

    Abkai hesei aliha Si Uini i boobai

    ‘Treasure [i.e. seal] of Winnie Xi that has received the mandate of heaven’.

    Si Boosei abka de jafara boobai

    ‘Treasure [i.e. seal] offered by Bun Xi to heaven’

    The Manchu text was composed by someone with knowledge of Manchu; this can be seen, e.g., in ‘Boosei’, the genitive of ‘Boose’. In a dictionary, one would find the nominative form.

    As for the names of Xi—

    ‘Si Uini’ is simply a transcription of Mandarin Xi Weini.

    Xi as Winnie the Pooh on Language Log:

    “The letter * has bee* ba**ed in Chi*a”, Feb 26, 2018;

    “Winnie meets Oreo”, June 29, 2018;

    and, perhaps fittingly, “Xi Jinping as a living bodhisattva”, March 9, 2018: in a comment, I noted that a ‘truncated witticism’ can be homophonously transformed into ‘The Boddhisattva [Wi]nnie [i.e., Xi] outdoes Jiang [Zemin, e.g. in terms of the ‘Sinification’ of religion]’.
    Indeed, Manchu emperors since at least Shunzhi (the dynasty's third, and the first to rule from Beijing) were referred to as reincarnations of the boddhisattva Mañjuśrī; the similarity with the Manchu (manju) ethnonym itself was often noted in Qing times.

    (Cf. Farquhar, “Emperor as Boddhisattva…”)

    Finally, the ‘bun’ name ‘Si Boose’ is not simply transcribed from Chinese, but translated. (A transcription would, e.g., have used dz, one the Manchu alphabet's dedicated letters for transcribing Mandarin z.) While I can't find ‘boose’ meaning ‘steamed bun’ in the dictionary I have at hand at the moment (Zakharov), a similar word (without the final vowel) indeed occurs in Sibe (a living relative of the nearly-extinct Manchu) in that meaning (Jin Ning, /Sibe-English Conversations/). As with Mongolian buuz бууз, the Manchu / Sibe is surely a loan from Mandarin baozi 包子, but not a standard transcription.

    On ‘bun’ as a name of Xi:

    “Fun bun pun”, April 9, 2017, with discussion of the connotations of the nickname;

    “T-shirt slogans”, November 7, 2016, on its use by the (later detained) activist Pyong Kwon (Gweon Pyeong 권평, Quan Ping 权平).

  8. Sulaiman Gu said,

    February 18, 2020 @ 7:50 pm

    Wow~~~I made my Xi seals for fun and didn't expect an academic discussion!

    Here's my other seal the Malay Hero, with Manchu and Chinese inscriptions and the Malaysian emblem.

    Mohor Wira Melayu (Malay) Melayu Baturui Boobai (Manchu) 马来勇士之印 (Chinese)

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