The inscriptions of this large stoneware seal can be read as tao ching shih pao
" which may be translated as "seal of the master of Taoist classics." The right side of the seal block is inscribed with the name of the seal maker or its owner Liu Ching-k'o. The top side of the seal is inscribed "tian shan tsun
" which may be translated as "respected in the heavens." The other two sides were each inscribed with the character hsia
(down and left) indicating the correct orientation when using the seal. The oddly shaped knob probably represents the standard hat of a Taoist deity.
The style of seal calligraphy used in the main inscription is called "nine-fold script" (chiu-tieh wen). It was an innovation of the T'ang dynasty (618-906) wherein the vertical line is carved in loops turning back and forth producing nine changes in direction for a single line.