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Qin and Han Dynasty Seals 大印

Qin and Han Dynasty Seals

The seals are also a great source of information on the administrative organization of both central and local government.

The museum notes: "The integrated eununch system was established in the Qin Dynasty. The eunuchs serving the emperor and empress usually also participated in the political affairs, which became one of the characteristics of the politics in the Qin Dynasty. The official titles displayed here were all held by the eunuchs: "NeiZhe( Palace Servant )" , " NeiGuan Cheng( Vice-director of Imperial Guards )" , "HuanZhe Cheng( Vice-director of the Eunuchs )" "ZhongGong Cheng( Vice-director of the Adminstrative Office of the Empress )" , "BeiGong Huan Cheng( Vice-director of the Eunuchs in the North Palace )" , "GaoZhang Huan Cheng (Vice-director of the Eunuchs in GaoZhang Palace )" . Most of the attendants of the imprerial family were also eunuchs."

Other seals give us the titles of various departments and offices in the Qin dynasty hierarchy: Palace Prison, Imperial Garden of Delicacies, Imperial Escorts, Empress' and Princess' Private Storehous #_, Chief Steward of the Bath, and Chamberlain for the Palace Revenues. Note that the translation uses British positions that are roughly equivalent but it should not be supposed that the job descriptions were identical.

The importance of the horse cannot be overlooked. The horse was used for military campaigns, transportation, trade, and construction. Each segment of government had to have stables just as each segment of government has a garage and fleet of cars today. At archaeological sites dating to the Shang and Zhou dynasties scientists find major burial grounds that include both chariots and horses. The Qin emperor's mausoleam includes full sized clay statues of horses and chariots to go along with his terra-cotta army. The seals give us detailed evidence of the types of government departments that were in charge of the horses, cavalry, and riders. The official titles include: Zhou Cheng, Vice-director-in-chief of the Imperial Steeds; Gong Che Sima Cheng, Vice-director of the Gate Traffic Control Office; Jia Ma, Director of the Imperial Mares; and Zhong Chefu Cheng, Vice-director of the Imperial Livery Office. We can also imagine that there were officials in charge of raising and training new horses, officials in charge of the stud, officials in charge of the grain and feed barns, and the list goes on.

Qin and Han Dynasty Seals 大印

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Last update: September 2013
© Marilyn Shea, 2013