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Chinese Calligraphy – Seal carving

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Seal engraved art, is calligraphy (mainly Seal ) and engraved (including cutting, casting ) in combination, to produce the seal art, is the Chinese character art form unique. Seal first emerged in the Qin, Han Sheng, decline to Jin, defeated the Tang, Song, revival in the Ming, ZTE to clear. It has a history of more than 3,700 years.

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Word meaning interpretation

篆刻:[zhuàn kè]

(1) Writing metaphorically and writing carefully.

(2) It means sculpting and over-modifying the text.

(3) Engraving seals.



As early as the Yin and Shang era, people used knives to carve “characters” on tortoise shells (that is, in modern times called Oracle ). These words have a sharp edge and fine brushwork, with a high level of “engraving”. Before the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period to the Qin Dynasty, seals were called “xi” or “xi”. The seal was carved on jade and the xi was carved on metal. After Qin Shihuang unified the six kingdoms, he stipulated that the “xi” was exclusively used by the emperor, and the seals used by ministers and private individuals were collectively referred to as “prints”. This forms the emperor with India called “seal” or “treasure”, the official seal called “India”, said the general with India “chapter”, said the Indian private use “seals”.

“seal” the word ancient writing “engraved lines” from jade next to the word. All the patterns carved on jade stone are called “瑑”. Later, bamboo silk became a popular writing utensil, so the symbol of seal characters was changed from “Jade” to “Bamboo”. In fact, in ancient times, all areas of carving jade, carving stone, carving bamboo, and inscribed copper can be called “seal carving”, and the carving of seals are only a small part. When Qin Shihuang arrived, the entire country was organized into eight types of scripts. The characters on the printed pages were called ” Miao Zhuan “; when Wang Mang set the sixth book, it was called ” Miao Zhuan “. From then on, it became clear that the seal script was the seal type. Use fonts. During the Tang and Song dynasties, due to the preferences of literati and ink scholars, although the seal system was changed, seal scripts were still used for printing. Until the Ming and Qing dynasties, when the seals appeared in large numbers, seal cutting became based on seal scripts. It expresses the artistic style of density and separation, and seal carving has also changed from the broad sense of carving and inscription to the narrow sense of seal management. The study of seal control is also directly called “engraved seal”, “stylus pen”, “iron book”, “carved seal” and so on.

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At the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO held from September 28 to October 2, 2009, China declared the Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese calligraphy, Chinese seal cutting, Chinese paper cutting, Chinese engraving, and printing Techniques, Chinese traditional wooden structure construction techniques, Chinese traditional mulberry silk weaving techniques, Longquan celadon traditional firing techniques, Mazu beliefs, Nanyin, Nanjing cloud brocade weaving techniques, traditional rice paper production techniques, Dong folk songs, Cantonese opera, Gesa (Sri) 22 projects including Er, Regong Art, Tibetan Opera, Manas, Huaer, Xi’an Drum Music, Chinese Korean Farming Music Dance, and Humai were selected as the “List of Representative Works of Human Intangible Cultural Heritage.”



Seal cutting has gone through more than ten dynasties in a long history of more than 3,700 years since its origin. In this long-term development process, the art of seal cutting has appeared in two highly developed historical stages.

One was during the Warring States, Qin and Han Dynasties, Wei and Jin Dynasties. During this period, the seal cutting materials were mainly jade, gold, teeth, and horns. It is called the “Ancient Seal Cutting Art Period”, and its characteristics of seal cutting art are mainly divided by era. Seal cutting developed to the Tang, Song, and Yuan periods, but was in a period of decline. During this period, as the application of regular script replaced the seal script, and the official seal and private seal were fundamentally separated, the art of seal carving went downhill. At the end of the Yuan Dynasty, this situation took a turn for the better. The painter Wang Mian discovered that the flower milk stone could be used for printing, which made the stone an ideal material for printing. In the Ming Dynasty, the art of seal cutting entered a period of renaissance.

Since the Ming and Qing Dynasties, seal cutting has ushered in its second peak period of development, and its artistic characteristics of seal cutting are mainly characterized by diverse genres. During this period, Wen Peng and He Zhen played an important role in the creation of the genre of seal-cutting art. Wen Peng is Wen Zhengming ‘s son, was his chance, he found the “light stone” stone-cold treatment can be used as printed material. After his advocacy, the stone is widely used. In the following period of time, the art of seal cutting showed various schools, and artists such as Cheng Xi, Ding Jing, Deng Shiru, Huang Mufu, Zhao Zhiqian, and Wu Rangzhi appeared. For a time, the art of seal cutting showed a prosperous scene.

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Until modern and modern seal carving masters Wu Changshuo, Li Liangyu, Qi Baishi, thus forming a complete history of Chinese seal carving. The art of seal cutting is a perfect combination of calligraphy, chapters, and swords. In one seal, there are magnificent and elegant calligraphy pens, beautiful and pleasing painting compositions, and the vivid carving charm of swordsmanship. It can be said to be “everything in every inch”.

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