Seal carving

Last updated

Seal carving, also seal cutting, or zhuanke in Chinese ( ), is a traditional form of art that originated in China and later spread to East Asia. It refers to cutting a design into the bottom face of the seal (the active surface used for stamping, rather than the sides or top). Also known as seal engraving. [1]

Contents

History

In the Shang dynasty seals started being used in the government offices, where they represented authority and power. During the Shang and Zhou dynasties the materials for seal making were mainly animal bone, copper (bronze), and pottery. There were specially trained, sophisticated artisans or craftsmen, including potters who specialized in this work, making seals. Because seals in this period were mainly used in governments and mainly by nobles and officials, the style of seals was very formal and beautiful. In the Shang dynasty, the oracle bone script (甲骨文) was used. During the Zhou period various scripts were used (because Chinese characters were still not unified), but mainly the dazhuan (大篆) or jinwen (金文) scripts were used.

In the Qin dynasty the more regular and formal seal script called xiaozhuan (小篆) was formalized by Chancellor Li Si and prescribed by the Emperor Qinshihuang, thus the written script of Chinese characters was unified for the first time. Due to the development of Chinese architecture, seals of this period were also widely used in building materials, e.g. after finishing a tile or a brick the maker normally stamped his seal on the surface. This can be seen on antiques of this period. Such seals, beside indicating the producers' names, time, or place, already have various styles, reflecting the personal characteristics of the manufacturers.

In the Song dynasty scholar-artists flourished and seal making became popular. Since that era, soft stone has been widely used in seal cutting. Stones from Qingtian, currently in Zhejiang Province, are called Qingtian stone (青田印石) while those called Shoushan stone (壽山印石) from Fujian Province were also widely used. Some artisans became experts, creating numerous carving styles. Also during this period seals started being used as authentification on paintings and works of calligraphy.

In the Yuan dynasty seal cutting was already a very developed art. The Ming and Qing dynasties were two golden periods for the art of seal cutting. In the Qing dynasty stones from Mongolia called Balin stone (巴林印石) began to be used. In modern times, a work of Chinese painting or calligraphy normally has one or more seals. [2]

Important schools

Notable artists

See also

Related Research Articles

Ink wash painting east Asian painting style using inks of different concentions

Ink wash painting is a type of East Asian brush painting that uses the same black ink used in East Asian calligraphy in different concentrations. Emerging in Tang dynasty China (618–907), it overturned earlier, more realistic techniques. It is typically monochrome, using only shades of black, with a great emphasis on virtuoso brushwork and conveying the perceived "spirit" or "essence" of a subject over the direct imitation. It flourished from the Song dynasty in China (960–1279) onwards, as well as in Japan after it was introduced by Zen Buddhist monks in the 14th century. Somewhat later, it became important in Korean painting.

Chinese bronze inscriptions

Chinese bronze inscriptions, also commonly referred to as bronze script or bronzeware script, are writing in a variety of Chinese scripts on ritual bronzes such as zhōng bells and dǐng tripodal cauldrons from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty and even later. Early bronze inscriptions were almost always cast, while later inscriptions were often engraved after the bronze was cast. The bronze inscriptions are one of the earliest scripts in the Chinese family of scripts, preceded by the oracle bone script.

Chinese calligraphy

Chinese calligraphy is the writing of Chinese characters as an art form, combining purely visual art and interpretation of the literary meaning. This type of expression has been widely practiced in China and has been generally held in high esteem across East Asia. Calligraphy is considered as one of the four most-sought skills and hobbies of ancient Chinese literati, along with playing stringed musical instruments, the board game "Go", and painting. There are some general standardizations of the various styles of calligraphy in this tradition. Chinese calligraphy and ink and wash painting are closely related: they are accomplished using similar tools and techniques, and have a long history of shared artistry. Distinguishing features of Chinese painting and calligraphy include an emphasis on motion charged with dynamic life. According to Stanley-Baker, "Calligraphy is sheer life experienced through energy in motion that is registered as traces on silk or paper, with time and rhythm in shifting space its main ingredients." Calligraphy has also led to the development of many forms of art in China, including seal carving, ornate paperweights, and inkstones.

Japanese calligraphy

Japanese calligraphy also called shūji (習字) is a form of calligraphy, or artistic writing, of the Japanese language. For a long time, the most esteemed calligrapher in Japan had been Wang Xizhi, a Chinese calligrapher from the 4th century, but after the invention of Hiragana and Katakana, the Japanese unique syllabaries, the distinctive Japanese writing system developed and calligraphers produced styles intrinsic to Japan. The term shodō is of Chinese origin as it is widely used to describe the art of Chinese calligraphy during the medieval Tang dynasty.

Seal (East Asia)

A seal, in an East and Southeast Asian context, is a general name for printing stamps and impressions thereof which are used in lieu of signatures in personal documents, office paperwork, contracts, art, or any item requiring acknowledgement or authorship. In the western world they were traditionally known by traders as chop marks or simply chops. The process started in China and soon spread across East Asia. China, Japan and Korea currently use a mixture of seals and hand signatures, and, increasingly, electronic signatures.

Wu Changshuo

Wu Changshuo, born Wu Junqing, was a prominent painter, calligrapher and seal artist of the late Qing Period.

Ming dynasty painting

During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Chinese painting progressed further basing on the achievements in painted art during the earlier Song dynasty and Yuan dynasty. The painting techniques which were invented and developed before the Ming period became classical during this period. More colours were used in painting during the Ming dynasty. Seal brown became much more widely used, and even over-used during this period. Many new painting skills/techniques were innovated and developed, calligraphy was much more closely and perfectly combined with the art of painting. Chinese painting reached another climax in the mid and late Ming. The painting was derived in a broad scale, many new schools were born, and many outstanding masters emerged.

Wanshou Temple

The Wanshou Temple is a temple located at the Suzhoujie in Haidian District, Beijing. In addition to being a Buddhist temple, the Wanshou Temple also houses the Beijing Art Museum (北京艺术博物馆/北京藝術博物館).

The Xiling Seal Art Society(Chinese: 西泠印社) is a Chinese arts organisation based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, PRC. It was founded in 1904 but, with antecedents dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties, is one of China's most important traditional stone seal engraving associations.

Side carving is a form of traditional seal carving techniques that originated in ancient China. It was later introduced to other countries in East Asia and has gained popularity among contemporary seal artists from regions including Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, etc. It mainly focuses on developing pattern design skills and techniques applied to the carving of side surfaces of a seal, which distinguishes itself as a unique carving technique from knob carving and face carving. It decorates the side surfaces of seals with literal or pictorial imagery.

Seal knob

Seal knob (印纽), sometimes also seal sculpture, refers to carving or small decorative reliefwork at the top or side of a seal. The associated carving technique is called knob carving (纽刻), a traditional technique that originated in ancient China and later spread to other East Asian countries, including Japan and Korea.

Banknote seal (China)

A cash seal is a type of seal used as an anti-counterfeiting measure on paper money or banknotes. The cash seal first appeared during the Song dynasty in China.

Bird-worm seal script

Bird-worm seal script is a type of ancient seal script originating in China.

Chinese art by medium and technique

Much traditional Chinese art was made for the imperial court, often to be then redistributed as gifts. As well as Chinese painting, sculpture and Chinese calligraphy, there are a great range of what may be called decorative or applied arts. Chinese fine art is distinguished from Chinese folk art, which differs in its style and purpose. This article gives an overview of the many different applied arts of China.

Hu Zhengyan Chinese painter, seal carver, and publisher (c. 1584 – 1674)

Hu Zhengyan was a Chinese artist, printmaker and publisher. He worked in calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, and seal-carving, but was primarily a publisher, producing academic texts as well as records of his own work.

He Zhen, also known as Zhou Cheng, Chang Qing, Xue Yu was a Chinese artist during the Ming Dynasty, who specialised in carving personal seals. Along with his teacher Wen Peng, he was one of the first seal-engravers to use soapstone as a medium for his work.

Copybook (calligraphy)

A copybook is a book containing examples of calligraphic script, meant to be copied while practicing calligraphy.

Shaoqiang Chen Chinese fine artist

Shaoqiang Chen is a Chinese fine artist known for creation of Heaven Style painting (天堂式画法) and innovation in literati painting. Currently, he is a member of Guangxi Calligraphy & Painting Research Institute, Distinguished International Artist of Yihong Culture Communicate Company, a council member of Richmond Chinese Painting.

Heaven Style Painting (天堂式画法) is a new style of Chinese Painting created in 21st century by a Chinese artist named Shaoqiang Chen. According to points of view by artists, art institutes, publications and media, the Heaven Style painting was derived based on painting techniques from Song dynasty (960-1279) and Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Also, some techniques of perspective science and contemporary photography were also introduced to search optimal surface of expressing objects in the painting.

Western Xia coinage Historical coinage of China

The Western Xia was a Tangut-led Chinese dynasty which ruled over what are now the northwestern Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Gansu, eastern Qinghai, northern Shaanxi, northeastern Xinjiang, southwest Inner Mongolia, and southernmost Outer Mongolia from 1032 until 1227 when they were destroyed by the Mongols. The country was established by the Tangut people; likewise its earliest coins were escribed with Tangut characters, while later they would be written in Chinese. Opposed to Song dynasty coins that often read top-bottom-right-left, Western Xia coins exclusively read clockwise. Despite the fact that coins had been cast for over a century and a half, very little were actually produced and coins from Western Xia are a rarity today. Although the Western Xia cast their own coins barter remained widely used.

References

  1. The Oxford Dictionary defines a seal as 'an engraved device used for stamping a seal'
  2. "The Seal". Vincent's Calligraphy. Retrieved 2020-11-27.