Reference work entry
Also called seal engraving stone. This is a stone used for engraving seals. Seals are a unique form of Chinese art, and as early as 3,000 years ago during the Shang Dynasty, seals were commonly used as symbols of power and means of communication. Later, due to the active involvement of the literati and the discovery of many varieties of stones suitable for seal engraving, seal stones became materials with high ornamental value. As a material for artwork, seal stones can be appreciated in two ways: (1) their design and sophisticated craftsmanship; and (2) the escalating standard of craftmanship and the associated calligraphy. Before the Yuan Dynasty, seal stones were mainly made of hard materials (gold, silver, copper, iron and ivory), but in the Yuan Dynasty, softer material became more popular, and China’s four major seal stones (Shoushan stone, chicken blood stone, Qingtian stone and Balin stone) came into existence (Fig. 18).
© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020