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Seal Cutting

Seal Cutting

Seal cutting refers to the art of carving on a block of certain material following a diagram of calligraphy or painting already drawn on it. A unique form of traditional art in China, it is of both practical and appreciative functions.

A block thus carved is called a seal. Characters can be carved inward or outward onto the material. The later is called intaglio. The edge face on the left of the seal normally show the name of the carver and the date of the carving mostly in intaglio.

At the very begining, a seal was only used as a token of pledge or a symbol of power. It was not transformed from a practical item into a piece of art until Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). Seal cutting, as a new form of art, started in Song (960 - 1279) and Yuan (1206 - 1644) and flourished in late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). During this period, many carving artists and schools appeared. The renowned carving artists included Wen Peng, He Zhen, Ding Jing, Deng Shiru and Qi Baishi.

In seal cutting, seal style cutting is commonly used. beside that, regular, official, running styles can also be seen. The seal itself can be made of crystal, jade, metal, animal horn, ivory, bamboo, wood, stone, etc. Stone is most extensively used, among which, Qingtian, Shoushan, Changhua and Balin seal stones are the most favorable.

In China, seal cutting is recognized by all circles and is popular today among young people.

Reference data

  1. Wen Peng (1498 - 1573) was a famous seal cutting artist of Ming Dynasty.
  2. He Zhen (? - 1604) was a famous seal cutting artist of Ming Dynasty.
  3. Ding Jing (1695 - 1765) was a famous seal cutting artist of Qing Dynasty.
  4. Deng Shiru (1743 - 1805) was a famous seal cutting artist of Qing Dynasty.
  5. Qi Baishi (1864 - 1957) was a famous seal cutting artist, calligrapher and painter of modern times.
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