Sunday, January 6, 2008

Introduction to Chinese Seal Carving

Pingyido Situ, Warring States Period 戰國時代 - 平陰都司徒Chinese seal carving, the hybrid of calligraphy and carving, is a peculiar art with distinctive national style.

Generally speaking, composition of inscription and sharp of the knob of seal embody the splendid artistic style of Chinese ancient seal carving. In addition, the side inscription and the natural beauty of the seal had been paid more and more attention since the Ming and Qing Dynasties (Chinese: 明清). Therefore, with the development of Chinese seal carving, the characteristic aesthetic standard came into being.

Portrait Seal of Deer, Han Dynasty 漢肖形印 - 鹿形Ancient seals were mainly made of bronze. In addition, other materials were often used to carve seals, which included gold, silver, jade, porcelain, horn, wood and stone. Bronze seals were made by the way of casting and chiseling. Ancient seals could be classified into official seals and personal seals for their function. During the Warring States Period (Chinese: 戰國時代), the popular idioms were often adopted as the inscriptions of seals. The earliest seals, "Xiaoxing Yin" (or portrait seals, Chinese: 肖形印), displaying different kinds of patterns, had a great vogue during the Warring States Period and the Han Dynasty (Chinese: 漢朝). With combining with the painting and calligraphy, seals of different kinds came out in quick succession for the special purposes of appreciating and collecting. In the meantime, more materials were used for seal carving than before. Up to the Ming Dynasty, stone became the principal material for Chinese seal carving, which directly led to the revolution in the artistic style of Chinese seal carving.

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References:
1. Sun Weizu 孫慰祖, Seal 印章. Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House 上海人民美術出版社: Shanghai, 1998. ISBN: 7532218937
2. ThinkQuest Internet Challenge: Chinese Seal Engarving

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