Chapter X Witness of History—Seal Cutting
Section I   An Overview of Seals
In a piece of calligraphy work, seal is an indispensible artistic part, which not only bears the identity of the calligrapher, but also balances the entire work as a finishing touch. The word “seal” has many synonyms in different peirods, we can bother about them when we deepen our studies; for the time being, it is enough to remember two characters—“印章”, which pronounces as yìn zhāng and means a seal or stamp.
Cast seal is made by pouring melted metal into a mold; chopped seal is carved. Gold, silver, copper, rhinoceros horn or ivory were often used as seal material before the Qin Dynasty; before Ming Dynasty copper seal were most popular and after Ming stone was used widely. There is a distinction of “white” and “red” characters, “white” means the character hollows in and “red” means the character protrudes out on the surface of the seal, for the ink paste is usually in red.




 The above are two red character seals





The above are two white character seals

Below are more samples:
Prior Qin Seals:
Qin and Han Seals:
     Western Han copper seal: 楚永苍丞 now collected
by the Palace Museum.
Wei and Jin Seals:
Sui and Tang Seals:
Song and Yuan Seals:
Song Iron Seal: To do kind things is the happiest
          神卫左第一军第三指挥        益都路管军千户建字号之印    管军千户印(八思巴文)
          第二都朱记Hebei Museum   Yuan, Shanghai Museum       Yuan, Zhejiang Museum
Ming and Qing Seals:
                灵山卫中千户所百户印               大清嗣天子宝 Qing, with Manchu, Palace Museum
Ming, Shanghai Museum
The above are Han Tianheng’s seals
The above are seals by Li Gangtian
The above are seals by Sang Jianhua


The above are seals by Wang Yong. These four are all contemporary calligrapher and seal carvers.


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