What is Oriental Painting and Seals

What is Oriental Painting?

Traditional Oriental painting technique exists for over 1000 years, originating from the Ancient China and influenced by Medieval Japan.

The paintings are created on handcrafted rice paper or on specially prepared silk. Artists use distinctive brushes made of goat, wolf, or marten fur, bird feathers and other natural materials.All the inks and pigments are also naturally produced. The technique of Oriental painting does not imply preliminary drafts or markings on paper. The picture is created on a white sheet with a few strokes. The properties of paper and ink are such that the applied stroke can not be erased, smeared, corrected, or altered. The artist needs to carefully think through the composition of the picture in advance and then quickly apply the necessary strokes on the paper. The paintings created in this style are often executed exclusively with ink. Colour pigments are used scarcely for accents and highlights. The main composition of Oriental paintings is built around white space of the paper sheet. The viewers are invited to imagine and put their own meaning into the picture. Despite this, the paintings created in this technique often have a deep inner or spiritual meaning. The themes of the paintings may vary, but the most popular are images of flowers, birds, as well as landscapes. The artist's main goal is to show the beauty of the world through pictures, whether these are large landscapes or small details, as in tiny blade of grass or a flower.

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What is so special about Oriental Stone Seals?

The Art of Oriental seal-carving is known for several thousand years. Originally the seals were used to mark an object of art and to verify its creator or owner. Later the seals became more and more used as a form of personal signature or of personal identification. Some seals were extremely important — for instance, Emperor Seals or other official seals that were symbols of power. If an Emperor would lose his seal, at war or otherwise, he would lose the power associated with it. With the evolution of crafts and literacy, the seals also evolved. The methods of carving became more elaborate, and the seals became more varied in form and accessible for more people, not only the aristocracy and noblemen. Gradually an Oriental seal became an inseparable attribute of an educated person. Painters, calligraphists and poets used their seals to sign their works of art, and collectors and wealthy philanthropists added theirs as a sign of appreciation.

This long-standing tradition lived on through our times as well. In Japan, for example, every person has a personal seal which is used as a signature for all the official documents. Present-days artists and calligraphers also use seals bearing their names, or a poetic quote, or a well-wish. Any work of painting or calligraphy is finished by a seal imprint on it.

Traditionally, the text on a seal is written in an old script (tensho 篆書 or seal script) — this was the mainstream style in calligraphy in the early times of seal-making and remains the main style for seals to this day. Seals are traditionally carved in stone, sometimes other materials like wood or even plastic are used. The carver uses ink and brush to write the text on the stone and then uses special knives to carve it. The imprints are made with a special cinnabar-based pigment. The seals are important works of art and are valued by collectors and Orientalists.

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