The present seal bears the same inscription and corresponds in size to the gold seal first bestowed by the Chinese Emperor upon the Great Fifth Dalai Lama after his visit to the Qing Court in 1653, in an official acknowledgement of his position. The Seventh and Eighth Dalai Lamas also received a gold seal of this type in 1724 and 1781 respectively with an identical Chinese inscription but minor differences in the transliteration; see Morning Glory Publishers, Precious Deposits, Historical Relics of Tibet, China, 2000, vol. 4, cat. no. 12, p. 12, and Greenland Books Co. (publ.), A Well-selected Collection of Tibetan Cultural Relics, 1990, cat. no. 28, p. 174. Two further seals bearing the same inscription are recorded to have been presented to the Great Fifth, made of iron with zitan wood knobs, one trilingual including Chinese, cf. Encyclopedia of China Publishing House (publ.), Tibet Museum, 2001, cat. no. 4, ill. p. 141; the other only in Chinese and of smaller size, see Precious Deposits, vol. 4, cat. no. 22, p. 55, and D. Schuh, Grundlagen Tibetischer Siegelkunde, 1981, fig. E7c, p. 13.
The seal is divided in three columns, the first on the left containing the Tibetan inscription in print letters (dbu can), the central one in Tibetan cursive script (dbu med), the third on the right with two vertical lines each in Manchu and Mongol script.
A further gold seal of a Dalai Lama exists which was purportedly presented by the Tibetan people to the 13th Dalai Lama in 1909, at a time when Tibet was seeking its independence; cf. Precious Deposits, vol. 4, cat. no. 38 and D. Schuh, Grundlagen Tibetischer Siegelkunde, 1981, p. 9f. Significantly, it bears an inscription in Sanskrit, Phagspa and Lantsa script, but not Chinese.
The attribution of the present seal to a specific Dalai Lama rests on linguistic and technical evidence. The design of intertwined dragons is closely related to an Imperial Ming ivory seal, cf. Precious Deposits, vol. 3, cat. no. 47, ill. p. 92. However, it is mercury (fire) gilt rather than gold damascened, a process that in the context of ironwork probably emerged after the 17th century. This technical aspect as well as the significant omission of Chinese points to the Great Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Gyalwa Tubten Gyatso (1876-1933).
After the revolution of 1911, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama returned from exile in 1913 and issued a proclamation that until today is considered by Tibetans to be their declaration of independence.