Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Carving a Chinese Seal

By a small graver, Uncle Chun, from Man Wa Lane, is simply sculpturing on stones bringing out five-thousand-year Chinese culture implicitly.

When Uncle Chun was about ten years old, he formally became a pupil to a master to learn a craft for almost 20 years. When recalling the memories in those years, he spoke the joy and sorrow for learning carving excitedly. For craving a seal, you not only need to know the penmanship, but also have to learn different ways in manufacturing and how to handle different fonts of writing. "Even if you have a beautiful handwriting, it doesn’t mean that you can become a famous craftsman." Uncle Chun was speaking slowly and tirelessly. Penmanship is just a small part for making a seal since the word is written in a reverse way. Moreover, you have to use a carving tool instead of a writing brush; writing on a stone instead of one piece of paper. Besides, the font for craving is quite different from writing and therefore we cannot just copy and paste the same word exactly. His master, Mr. Chan Shiu Man, gives him a lot of freedom so that Uncle Chun can have much room for creation and exposure. Master Chan's enlightened attitude impressed Uncle Chun a lot. And Uncle Chun admired Master Chan's style of work as well.

"A seal can be divided into two types", Uncle Chun said, "Practical and Artistic". Generally speaking, the main user for practical stamp is the company. The seal is most commonly used to sign upon any receipt; artistic stamp is mostly for personal purpose, for example, like sealing on a calligraphy and painting. Since there are different usages for the seal, it will be a different way on how to make a seal to suit for different purposes. The font and the character of the stamp must be neat and uniform so that the name of the Company can be shown clearly. On the other hand, there is much room for creating an artisan seal. You are relatively free to choose the font of the seal for your favour. The edge of the seal has to be beaten so as to show the primitive simplicity and the beauty of imperfection.

The meaning of "Yin and Yang" ("陰陽" in Traditional Chinese) is always shown on the making of a seal, the concave part means "Yin" while the convex part means "Yang". The intaglio character is in white color and so always named as "white characters" (or "白文" in Traditional Chinese or Baiwen in Mandarin); the character carved in relief is in red color and so called as "red characters" (or "朱文" in Traditional Chinese or Zhuwen in Mandarin).

Since Hong Kong is an international city with mixed cultures, apart from Chinese, Uncle Chun will carve a seal in English character per customers' request, sometimes even including Japanese or Korean. However, with rapid development on the scientific technology, the demand for the practical use of the seal decreases. Needless to say, less people can really understand or treasure the aesthetics on seal making. "For now, the people who are most interested or appreciate the seal making are all the tourists, but not the local people." Uncle signed with sorrow.

For ordering, please contact us at arranke28@gmail.com.

References:
Wikipedia: Seal (Chinese)

More Photos:
http://picasaweb.google.com/arranke28/Seals

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