Traditional Round Chinese Seal Carving Stand made of woodDimension: Diameter x Height: 5.0 in x 1.5 in / 12.5 cm x 3.8 cm
Considered in the same realm of Chinese art as painting, calligraphy and poetry, seal carving has been practiced since ancient times. Essentially a combination of calligraphy and engraving, carvings are used to imprint a unique marking on a seal stone. The resulting stamp is used to identify a document or artwork belonging to a particular person or particular office.
Seals first were used during the Qin Dynasty (221-210 B.C.) by royalty to put the Emperors' signature on government documents. Later, the practice evolved and non-officials began using their own stamps, which were called Yin. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), this name was changed to Bao because Yin's pronunciation was similar to that of another Chinese word meaning death.
After the seals stopped being used exclusively by royalty, Chinese artists began using them to "sign" their artwork. To this day, artists take pride in developing an identifying seal that is unique to them and their artwork.