for the pair
DESCRIPTION: The art of Chinese seal making developed from very ancient times. First seen as molded clay stamps, bronze seals then appeared in an embryonic form in the Shang and Zhou dynasties (1600 BC – 256 BC). This pair of small bronze seals are an excellent representation of the early forms of Chinese seal making. The simple square seal pictured dates from the Han dynasty or earlier (206 BC – 220 AD), while the seal with a tortoise dates from the Tang or Song Dynasty (618-1279 AD).
The early bronze seals, mostly bearing rank titles of government officials and military officers, were almost uniformly small, unadorned and had perforated knobs for hanging from belts as badges of identity. As seals came to be used on paper, they evolved into a more vertically elongated form which made them easier to grasp. In the Tang and Song periods, carvings of animal forms were added, such as the zodiac animals or the four spirit creatures (the dragon, tiger, phoenix, and tortoise). Later seals tend to be carved from stone and have more highly developed and elongated figures of dragons or fu dogs (Buddhist lions) as knobs. DIMENSIONS: Largest seal with tortoise measures 3/4” square (2 cm) x 3/4” high (2 cm).