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inshou@ˆσΝ
KEY WORD :@art history / paintings
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A seal stamp carved with characters or pictographs which serves as proof or certification when pressed on a vessel, utensil, painting, document or letter. Also called in ˆσ, han ”», inban ˆσ”», ingyou ˆσŒ`, ji-in ‚Άˆσ or hangyou ”»Œ`. Seals were used in western Asia in Mesopotamia and Mohenjodaro as early as 5000 BC and have a long history if use in China. Chinese seals may be generally divided into four categories: 1 ancient seals koji ŒΓ‚Ά ; 2 Han dynasty official seals Kan-in ŠΏˆσ ; 3 post-Sui and Tang dynasties official seals kan-in Š―ˆσ ; and 4 seals with art-names or poetic verses ga-in ‰λˆσ. Koji are seals made prior to the Chin dynasty. three such seals made of copper/bronze were discovered in the ruins of Inkyo ŸušΠ (Ch: Yinxu, in present-day Henan province) which served as the dynastic capital of the middle Yin period. After the end of the Eastern Chou, seals carved for official as well as for personal use flourished; these were generally made of bronze, but jade, gold, silver, stone, glass, bone and ceramic were also employed. During the Han dynasty, the rank of each official serving under Emperors Wen and Wu came to be defined by the material, shape and color of the seal which they used. The most common type of official seal during the Han dynasty was made of bronze, measured about 22-23mm. square, and was carved with four characters. This seal type, called a "Han seal," continued to be reproduced throughout the Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties. During the Han dynasty, clay was used to make seal impressions, but later when the use of paper became common, seals were pressed into cinnabar seal-ink and then onto paper. From the Tang and Song dynasties on, collection seals shuuzou-in Žϋ‘ ˆσ and Buddhist temple seals dougou-in “°†ˆσ were also used. At this time hakubun-in ”’•Άˆσ, seals with the characters engraved in the negative so that the letters were white when stamped, were employed for family. Seals with the characters carved so that they show the color of the seal paste when stamped, were employed for art-names and Buddhist names. Seals carved with art or Buddhist names ga-in ‰λˆσ, were made of stone or ivory and carved in seal-script by the literati of the Song and Yuan (c.1280-1368) periods, who also expressed great interest in seal connoisseurship and seal engraving. The literati also carved phrases from their favorite poetic verses on seals for use on paintings and calligraphies yuu-in —Vˆσ and pressed rectangular or oval shaped seals kanbou-in ŠΦ–hˆσ carved with elegant phrases or Buddhist names in their upper corners or on paper joinings to attest that the works were original and that the pieces of silk or paper on which they were painted had not been replaced or separated. Collector's seals kanzou-in ŠΣ‘ ˆσ were also stamped on paintings and calligraphies of this period as evidence of that particular collector's ownership and the work's authenticity. They provide important information regarding the provenance of the art works on which they are stamped. The verses of characters found on yuu-in, kanbou-in and kanzou-in could either be carved in relief or in intaglio.
The oldest known seal in Japan, called the Kan no wa no na no kokuou ŠΏ˜`“z‘‰€, is made of gold and was given by the late-Han dynasty Emperor Guang-wu (Jp: Koubutei Œυ•’ι), but early historical sources for native-made seals indicated that a carved wooden seal was employed during the reign of Empress Jitou Ž“ (690-97) and probably the use of seals for official purposes came into practice in Japan around this time. A public decree was issued in 701 to standardize the size and style for official seals kan-in. The important official seals of Japan include the following: the nai-in “ΰˆσ, also called the o-akashi-in Œδ暈σ of about 9cm square and inscribed with four characters "Tennou gyoji" “VcŒδŽ£. This was used by those holding the fifth court rank of above and for official documents. The ge-in ŠOˆσ is a 7.5cm-square seal on which the four characters dajoukan ‘Ύ­Š― are carved. It is used by those of sixth rank or higher and for drafts initiated by the dajoukan. There are also various smaller official seals as well as seals of the various provinces, districts and villages. Private seals *shi-in Ž„ˆσ, also called yamato ko-in ‘ε˜aŒΓˆσ, appeared in the latter half of the Nara period ; the majority of these were copper, bronze or iron cast squares with the characters engraved into the surfaces. At this time, the custom was to impress the seals numerous times over the surface of the writing. From the Kamakura period on, ancient code of laws declined  and literature and writing based on warrior codes arose. The use of *kaou ‰Τ‰Ÿ of handwritten seals drawn beneath the signature to some extent replaced the finely carved official seals, but seals in general found broader usage on letters, literature, paintings and documents of all kinds. Seals used in place of or in addition to signatures on paintings and calligraphy are termed *rakkan —ŽŠΌ. During the Muromachi and Sengoku periods, it became popular for the military general of each area to have his own red-ink seal. Among these, Oda Nobunaga's D“cM’· (1534-82) "Tenka fubu" “V‰Ί•z• seal and Toyotomi Hideyoshi's –LbG‹g (1536-98) red seal are famous. Also from this time through the early Edo period, ito-in Ž…ˆσ were imported from China. These bronze seals came attached to imported raw silk thread, thus their name thread seal or yarn seal. They were made of bronze, came in various shapes: square hou-in •ϋˆσ, round en-in ‰~ˆσ, pentagonal, octagonal, etc., and were carved with words, verses or pictographs in a variety of script-types, making them popular collectables in Japan among literati in the early Edo period. During the Edo period black-inked seals koku-in •ˆσ (also called *kiwame-in ‹Ιˆσ) were impressed upon official documents and valuables such as swords, calligraphies and paintings, as proof of expert appraisal.
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(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System.@No reproduction or republication without written permission.
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