Links for Chinese Seal Carving

There are many online resources for Chinese style seal carving in Chinese but few in English. Here are a few of those we’ve found. Send us an email If you know of others.

China Academy of Art, Hangzhou, PRC
Formerly the National Academy of Art and now called the China Academy of Art, this English language version of their web site gives information about the college and includes contact information. Although seal carving is a part of the four-year degree program for calligraphy you can also take individual classes and stay in the college dormitory for international students on a short-term basis. All classes are taught in Chinese but you can get by with a minimal knowledge of the language (and Chinese language classes are available).
Chinese Seal/Chop Engraving
This site was, for many years, the only source on the internet for information in English on Chinese seals. It hasn’t been updated since 2001 and the English can be a bit broken sometimes but it is still one of the best resources available online.
Update: Most of the links on the site are now broken (7 August 2013)—hopefully this is just temporary.
Lau Ho-man. “The Seal-engraving art of Deng Shiru (1743-1805).”
You can also find this on our bibliography but it is worth repeating here. This is a downloadable PDF version of a Master’s degree thesis at the University of Hong Kong by Lau Ho-man 劉浩敏. Not only does it illustrate and describe every seal cut by the artist Deng Shiru, it also has an excellent introduction to the art of seal carving.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
Go to this page to search the Museum’s collections and type in “Chinese seal.” You will get several thousand results, including seals along with objects that may or may not contain seals on them. There are a few hundred seals in the collection if you want to look through all the entries. There isn’t much information provided, but there are some good pictures. Unfortunately just about anything that isn’t identified as jade is listed as soapstone though few, if any, are actually carved from soapstone.
National Palace Museum, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
You won’t find much by clicking the links on their English-language website, but if you type “seals” into the search box on the home page you’ll find both images and some good information.
Paragon Book Gallery
This is the only English-language book dealer we’ve found, other than Amazon, that sells books about Chinese seal carving. From their home page:
  • click the “Browse Subjects” button at top left
  • under “Subjects To Browse” click the drop-down list next to “China” at the top of the page
  • scroll down to “Seals”
  • click the “Go” button to the right of the drop-down list
By clicking on individual titles you can find which are in English and which are in Chinese (or other languages). Their list of available books is always changing.
University of California, Merced, CA
To quote from their web page, “Mr. Jung Ying Tsao, a collector of Asian art, presented the [UC Merced] Library with a fourteen-volume set documenting a collection of Chinese seals. The volumes contain drawings and carefully made impressions of the seals, which date from the Warring States Period (5th century BC) to the 20th century. The collection includes personal, official, and religious or temple seals … while we have little information about the individual seals represented here, these images are made available for research, teaching, and private study.”
Wikipedia
Although the contents of this web page could change at a moments notice, their page for Seal (East Asia) has a lot of useful information on the use of seals in China, Japan, and Korea with many links.