The Imperial Seal of the Qin Dynasty, or more commonly known as The Heirloom Seal of the Realm, reveals insight about the early Chinese emperors and monarchies. This stamp was made during the Qin dynasty when Shi Huangdi was ruling. Although the different purposes and significances of using seals have evolved over time, during the Qin Dynasty, it was said to have political and supernatural importance. The early Chinese government was strictly bureaucratic, consisting of an elite group of officials who served the First Emperor. Every measurable aspect of daily life, such as money, writing, and even axel lengths were standardized, so that the people of the Qin dynasty could be controlled more easily.1 The people of the Qin dynasty,
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Ironically, all of the different potions and elixirs that he put his hope of immortality into killed him. Fatal amounts of mercury were included in these “lifesaving medicines”. This was most likely the leading factor to why Shi Huangdi died at the young age of 49. Long before Shi Huangdi died, he began construction of his own tomb. This massive project took about 700,000 people to complete, over a time span of about 38 years. If a seven mile burial site wasn’t enough, he filled his tomb with an army of 8,000 terracotta soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses. He was buried with all of these objects because he believed that they would protect him in his afterlife. His mausoleum was also filled with weapons and small artifacts including religious pottery and thousands of sculptures. One of the precious artifacts found in the tomb was the Heirloom Seal of the Realm. The seal was passed down to every emperor in Chinese history, but ended with Shi Huangdi, when he buried it with the rest of his treasure in his tomb.
The purposes and styles of seals have evolved majorly over time. The first stamps were found around 544 B.C. and were made of bronze and silver. These seals were large, square, and made of jade. They were used during the Shang Dynasty and the name translated to treasure. The general names of seals such as these evolved from Imperial Seal; before the Qin dynasty, to Emperor’s Seal, Imperial Jade Seal and Stamps; after the Qin