Literati's Seal Carving - Page 2

It is a kind of art executed on seals, the beauty of which is expressed by its calligraphy, composition and techniques of carving. In the period of the Song and Yuan dynasties (960-1368), stamping seals on the works of painting and calligraphy came into vogue among painters, calligraphers and painting and calligraphy collectors. In addition to the personal names, studio names, collection appraisal signs and set phrases were also carved on seals. So, many intellectuals did their own creative carving of seals on stones, and a group of celebrated literati seal carvers had grown up by the mid Ming period of 16th century. Their distinguished styles in carving, composition and calligraphy exerted great influences on later seal carvers and various seal carving schools formed after them.

Wen Peng
Wen Peng( 1498-1573), the originator of the Ming literati seal carving and good also at painting and calligraphy,made a great contribution to the development of Chinese seal carving. His seal characters look very delicate and neat.

He Zheng and the Huizhou school
He Zheng (1530-1606), a seal carver of the Ming dynasty, followed Wen Peng at his early period of seal carving and later formed his own steady and vigorous style with the influence of Qin and Han (221 BC-AD 220). As most masters of his followers were natives of Huizhou (today's Anhui area), people call them the Huizhou school.

Deng Shiru and the Deng school
DengShiru (1743-1805) made himself a famous seal carver of the Qing dynasty out of his outstanding achievement in calligraphy. He broke free from the convention of the Qin and Han seals and established a very natural and graceful style for seal carving. As later so many Qing seal carvers followed his style, the Deng school of seal carving came into being.


Ding Jing and the Zhejiang school
Ding Jing( 1695-1765), a calligrapher and seal carver of the Qing dynasty, was regarded as the founder of the Zhejiang seal carving school. He imitated the seal carvings of the Han (206 BC-AD 220), Song and Yuan (960-1368) dynasties and initiated the simple and bold style of cutting carving.



Late Qing seal carvers
In the late Qing period (19th century), blazing new trails and pursuing individuality was the main trend of seal carvings. The carvers assimilated the techniques of previous masters and brought forth their individual styles in practice. Wu Changshuo's bold and vigorous style is a very good example. This trend has a deep influence on modern seal carving.
Materials for Seals
Ancient Chinese seals were mainly made of metal, jade, stone, ceramics, bone and ivory. In the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), stone seals became popular, that gave the priority in material to the rise of the literati's seal carving, thus pyrophyllite becoming the main material for seals since then.
Qingtian stone
It is the most common seal stone originated from Nanfangshan and Shankou areas of Qingtian county, Zhejiang province. The ones with translucent jelly-like grains of "'dengguangdong" (lamp light jelly) and "fengmendong" (seal door jelly) are the best in quality.
Changhua stone
It is from a place named Changhua in Lin'an county, Zhejiang province. The ones with pure and translucent jelly-like grains of "ou'fengdong" (lotus-root powder jelly) and "manaodong" (agate jelly) are the best, and the one with red grains, known as "chicken-blood stone" is the most famous of the kind.
Shoushan stone
The stone from Shoushan, Fuzhou city, Fujian province varied greatly in quality. The yellow Tianhuang soap stone is the most expensive, and the "baifurong" (white cottonrose hibiscus) and "yunaodong" (fish brains jelly) are the famous types, too.
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Text and spelling from the Shanghai Museum, Thank you.

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