Hsia (c.2000 - 1600 B.C.), Shang (c.1600 - 1066 B.C.) & Zhou (1066 - 771 B.C.) Dynasties

According to a Han Dynasty legend, the first seal was given to the Yellow Emperor by a dragon with a diagram on its back (c. 2600 BC). Another legend said that a seal contained in a jade box was bestowed upon Emperor Yao by a phoenix as he was sitting in a boat (c. 2300 BC). In either case, the receipt of the seal signified the conferral of the Mandate of Heaven. He who had the seal possessed the Mandate of Heaven and was given the authority to rule the nation. For example, as the first king of the Shang Dynasty, Tang, overthrew the tyrant of the previous Hsia Dynasty in 1711 BC, he seized the imperial seal and thus established his authority.

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