Seals have played an important role in Chinese history. They symbolize power, dignity, and authority. If you come to Beijing, you can get a rare and beautiful stone seal with your name inscribed on it.
On the second floor of Hongqiao Market near the Temple of Heaven, there is a seal-cutting shop. I went there a few days ago.
The shopkeeper is also a seal sculptor. He told me that seals were widely used in ancient China, especially during the Warring States Period.
Then he showed me a number of elegant Shoushan stones, the best stone for making seals. They only come from the southeastern part of China. One can easily be attracted by their natural luster and nice colors, such as yellow, red, white, grey, and black.
Some of the stones have small sculptures on top like lions, unicorns, and any of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Just pick one the most appealing to you, and the shopkeeper will beautifully carve your name right away.
Apart from seals, the shop also carries various traditional Chinese handicrafts like bronze, jade, and woodcarvings. I especially like their inscribed bamboo items. One of them is even engraved with the full text of the Art of War both in Chinese and English!
What I appreciated
Shoushan stone seals, traditional handicrafts
What customers appreciate
Cutting name on seals on the spot, Chinese arts and crafts
Shoushan stone is named after its place of origin, Shou Mountain in southeast China. Made from a crystal of aluminum and silicon, there exists more than 200 varieties. The most valuable ones have fine smooth texture and magnificent colors. Shoushan stone carving came into being sixteen hundred years ago, and now fills a unique niche among precious stones.
I saw firsthand what the stones could turn into treasure in the hands of a skilled handicraft master, when I visited the Shoushan carving studio in Baigong Handicraft Museum. A showcase lined up numerous types of seals made of Shoushan stone. They were in white, red, and yellow, with a unicorn or one of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals carved on top.
You could choose to have your name engraved on the bottom of a seal. Then pick up the finished product the next day. Each seal cost RMB 300 to 500.
There are other items offered in the shop. A velvet showcase, for example, housed small, lovely boxwood sculptures in the shape of mystic and real animals. Each elaborately carved, and cost RMB 100.
Beijing Shopping: Seals have played an important role in Chinese history. They symbolize power, dignity, and authority. If you come to Beijing, you can get a rare and beautiful stone seal with your name inscribed on it...