Seal carving, Chinese chop, or stamp engraving, is recognized as one of the greatest ancient treasures in China. Chinese seal carving is a chop used as a hand signature. You affix this signature to documents. It is a sign of approval or identification. For centuries, Chinese seals have been seen as an icon of power.
Seal Carving, Chinese Chops, Stamp Engraving – Origin
Chinese stamp engraving started in the ancient times, during the Qin dynasty (221-210 B.C.). Originally, they were reserved to be used only by the Chinese rulers such as the emperors and royalties. The emperor used seal carving to give imperial orders. Government courts used it on official records. After the Qin dynasty, the use of the Chinese stamps became popular. The common people created Chinese seals for non-official use. Instead of using the stamp as a sign of approval, individuals used it for pleasure. Merchants used them as trademark for their business. Since then, seal carving has been used in many different ways.
Seal Carving Today – What Do We Use Chinese Chops For?
Today, people continue to use Chinese seal carving. Yet, its use is much less formal now. Instead of official purposes, people use Chinese stamps for personal expression. A seal is usually made of soft stone, which makes it easy to carve. It consists of Chinese characters that have special meanings. It can be your name, company name, writer’s name, signature, meaningful phrase, motivational words or whatever you desire to express. After the carving is complete, a special Chinese ink is applied to the seal (always red ink). Then we press the seal hard on a piece of paper. This creates an impression. Now you have your name or favorite phrase in a lovely seal design. It is beautiful.
Chinese Chops, Stamp Carving – Popular Among Artists, Writers
In other words, Chinese chops or stamp carving can be used in many exciting ways. This is why seal carving is especially popular among artists, scholars, collectors and writers. Next time, if you see a Chinese painting, calligraphy, or any literary work, check if you can find this beautiful ancient stamp – seal carving.
A Chinese Stamp Can Be Used for:
- Someone’s name
- Company or business name
- Favourite expression
- Motivational phrase
- Meaningful words
Classic Chinese Chops, Stamp Engraving, Seal Carving by Artist
The following Chinese stamps are the works of Montreal artist Ngan Siu Mui. If you want to find out the meanings of these seals, visit her website