An identical example is in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Silk Tapestry and Embroidery in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1971, no. 49.
The two seal impressions above the panel read: Taishang Huangdi Zhibao, 'Treasure of the Emperor Emeritus', and Bazheng Mao Nian Zhi Bao, 'A treasure commemorating the advanced age of eighty'. Both of these were personal seals of Emperor Qianlong and were popularly used for the period between his abdication in 1795 and his death in 1799. In the sixtieth year of the Qianlong reign, the emperor self-styled himself as Taishang Huangdi in accordance to an ancient tradition recorded in the Classic, Shiji, 'Records of the Grand Historian' written by the Han Court official, Sima Qian. It is recorded by Sima Qian that Qin Shi Huang conferred the posthumous title of Taishang Huang on his father (the king of Zhuangxiang), after the former united the six kingdoms and proclaimed himself the First Emperor or Shi Huangdi.
Taishang Huangdi Zhibao is one of the most important seals of Emperor Qianlongs life as an emperor emeritus, and similar seal impressions were frequently affixed to rare books, classical paintings and calligraphy that were collected by the Imperial Household Department, as well as being used on Qianlongs own works. It is often accompanied by two other seals bearing the characters of Wufu Wudai Tang Guxi Tianzi Bao and Bazheng Mao Nian Zhi Bao. Similar seal impressions also appear on a large imperial kesi panel depicting the three Star Gods and mounted as a hanging scroll, sold at Christies Hong Kong, 30 May 2006, lot 1264.
The large inscription above the present kesi panel is a Sanskrit Lanca script for Dharma, the Law. Below this is a six-syllable Mantra of Avoliketsvara (written from left to right) also in Sanskrit. The inscription on the lower panel is a four-line prayer, written in dbu-can Tibetan script which may be translated as:
May the auspicious presence of the Three Jewels brings happiness and goodness in the daytime,
and happiness and goodness in the night time,
and also happiness and goodness at noon time,
and happiness and goodness forever day and night.
Large imperial kesi panels of this quality and type are extremely rare. A massive panel, measuring 448 x 196.5 cm., depicting the Pure Land of the Western Paradise is illustrated by Zhu Jiajin, Treasures of the Forbidden City, Hong Kong, p. 245, no. 97. Also compare with a panel depicting the Amitayus, Buddha of Infinite Light, sold at Christies Hong Kong, 26 April 1999, lot 525. The present four-armed deity is also known as the Bodhisattva of Infinite Mercy. The form is derived from Tibetan Buddhism and was propagated through gilt-bronze sculptures as early as the Yongle period, such as the Yongle-marked example sold at Christies Hong Kong, 30 May 2005, lot 1245.