Seal cutting refers to the art of carving on a block of certain material following a diagram of calligraphy or painting already drawn on it. A unique form of traditional art in China, it is of both practical and appreciative functions.
A block thus caved is called seal. Characters can be carved in relief or deep into the carving material. The latter is called intaglio. The edge face on the left of the seal normally show the name of the carver and the date of the carving mostly in intaglio.
At the very beginning,a seal was only used as a token of pledge or a symbol of power. It was not until the Tang Dynasty(618-907) that the seal was gradually transformed from a practical item into a piece of art. Sea cutting, as a new form of art,started in the Song( 960-1279) and Yuan( 1206-1368) dynasties and flourished in the late Ming Dynasty(1368-1644) and early Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). During this period, many carving artists and schools appeared. The renowned carving artists included Wen Peng, He Zhen, Ding Jing.