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Robert van Gulik’s Chinese Seals and his Hand Scroll with Seal Imprints: Recent Gifts from the Van Gulik Family to the Rijksmuseum

Seal of Robert van Gulik, carved by Ma Heng. Photograph by Koos Kuiper.

In December 2020 the Van Gulik family donated 50 Chinese seals carved or collected by Robert van Gulik to the Rijksmuseum, and also a 13 m long hand scroll (horizontal scroll) with imprints of 75 seals carved or collected by him, and a pair or scrolls with calligraphy by Van Gulik and imprints of five seals. Koos Kuiper will introduce the hand scroll of imprints, show and explain some seal imprints, and present a new interpretation of the meaning of the pair  of calligraphy scrolls.


Koos Kuiper was curator of the old Chinese and Japanese books and manuscripts in Leiden University Library; he retired in 2016. In 2010, he created an exhibition about Robert van Gulik (and his seals) in the Leiden University Library. He is still working as an interpreter and translator of Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese). In the past, he translated several works of modern Chinese literature into Dutch, and taught evening courses of Chinese for almost 40 years. He published several articles about Dutch-Chinese contacts, and his doctoral thesis was published as The Early Dutch Sinologists (1854-1900). Leiden: Brill, 2017.