Xiling Seal Art Society

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Xiling Seal Art Society
Chinese 西泠印社
Hanyu Pinyin Xīlíng Yìnshè

The Xiling Seal Art Society is a Chinese arts organisation based in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. It was founded in 1904 but with antecedents dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties, is one of China's most important traditional stone seal engraving associations.[1]

Alternative names[edit]

Other possible translations include the Xiling Seal Society, or Hsi-leng Seal Society,[2] or the Xiling Seal Engraving Society,[3] or the Xiling Seal Engraver's Society, or the Xiling Epigraphy Society.


Pre-society history[edit]

During the Yuan dynasty, the most famous seal engraver was the scholar and artist Wang Mian, who first used soap stone for seal making.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, seal engraving flourished in China, especially in the Yangtze River Delta region, where there was a continuous rich artistic tradition. There were many different schools of seal making, and many independent artists specialized in seal cutting, seal script calligraphy, and the selection of seal stones.

In South China, the major three schools of seal engraving during these periods were Hui School (whose artists mainly from current Anhui Province), Zhe School (whose artists mainly from current Zhejiang Province), and Hai School (which was mainly developed in Shanghai, and whose major artists were from current Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces).

The Hui School is considered as already a mature seal engraving school as early as the Ming dynasty, especially during the Jiajing and Wanli eras. The most famous seal makers during the early phase of this school were Xiu Ning (休宁) and He Zhen, who were active in the mid–late Ming dynasty. During the Kangxi-Yongzheng-Qianlong era of the Qing dynasty, the second climax of this appeared, and the most typical representative artist during this period was Cheng Sui from She County, Anhui. In the late Qing dynasty, this school had its third climax of development, and influenced more engravers not only those who were from Anhui. Typical figures of the phase three were: Huang Shiling (黄士陵), Yi Dachang (易大厂), Qiao Dazhuang (乔大壮), Wang Fu'an (王福庵) and Li Yisang (李尹桑).

The Zhe School (浙派) first became famous and influential during the Qianlong era of the Qing dynasty. The main founder of this school was Ding Jing (丁敬). Ding made his school the dominant seal engraving school during his time. Because Ding was a native of Xiling and active in Xiling for a long time, a society was later formally organized with its headquarters in Xiling, named the Xiling Seal Society.

Ding's most accomplished students were Jiang Ren (蒋仁), Huang Yi (黄易), Xi Gang (奚冈), Chen Yuzhong (陈豫钟), Chen Hongshou (陈鸿寿), Zhao Zhishen (赵之琛), and Qian Song (钱松), who are now widely regarded as the Eight Masters of Xiling.[4]

The Hai School or Shanghai School of seal arts would be the latest school, and mainly started developing during the late Qing dynasty. This school in fact combined different styles of previous schools, especially those artistic elements from Hui and Zhe Schools. It's mainly considered as a modern school of seal art.[5] Early important artists from this school are Qian Shoutie (钱瘦铁), Wu Hufan (吴湖帆), Huang Baoyue (黄葆戉), Bai Jiao (白蕉), Ma Gongyu (马公愚), Qin Bomo (秦伯未), Hua Ji'an (华笃安), Zhu Hongda (朱鸿达), Wu Zhongjiong (吴仲坰); Tang Linze (汤临泽), Chen Zili (陈子彝), Qin Kangxiang (秦康祥), Wu Youqian (吴幼潜), Jin Tiezhi (金铁芝), Zhi Ci'an (支慈庵), Lai Chusheng (来楚生), Hou Fuchang (侯福昌), Gao Luoyuan (高络园).

Establishment of the society[edit]

Before the establishment of the society, there were many local or small-sized organizations or artists groups existing, especially in Zhejiang and Shanghai, however, it was not formally registered nor recognized by the government (nonofficial). The seal artists from different schools and places first founded the Xiling Seal Society as a large/national and academic society of learning, research and art in 1904. The first board of directors included Ding Ren (丁仁), Wang Shi (王禔), Wu Yin (吴隐), and Ye Ming (叶铭). The first President of the society was Wu Changshuo (吴昌硕), a famous scholar, calligraphist, painter, seal maker, writer from the Hai School.

List of presidents[edit]

Current situations[edit]

The headquarters of society are located on the western side of Gushan Hill (孤山) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Gushan Hill is an island in the north of West Lake. From the top of the hill people can get a very good nice view of the lake and enjoy its beautiful landscapes. To the northeast of Gushan there is the famous Bai Causeway (白堤) named after Bai Juyi, a famous poet and governor of Hangzhou. To the west, there is the Xiling Bridge.

The society has several museums of seals and seal-related arts on the mountain. It also owns many old buildings mainly built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are also a pool and several caves on the mountain.

Every year, there many artists get together discussing art in the society. The artists are mainly from Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. There are also many exhibitions and activities on the mountain annually. The famous China Academy of Art is also not far from the site of the society. The Zhongshan Park of Hangzhou is quite nearby.

Now the society and its facilities are listed as one of the Major Sites Protected at the National Level of China.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yang, Xiaoneng; Hong, Zaixin; Gao, Tianmin (2010). Tracing the past, drawing the future: master ink painters in twentieth-century China. 5 Continents Editions. p. 114. ISBN 093703133X. 
  2. ^ Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China (U.S.) (1980). Traditional and Contemporary Painting in China: A Report of the Visit of the Chinese Painting Delegation to the People's Republic of China. National Academies. p. 82. 
  3. ^ Xiling Seal-engraving Society 105th Anniversary Serial Exhibitions[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Hudong.com Encyclopedia: The history of Zhe School (seal art)
  5. ^ Modern Hai School of Seal Art Archived November 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°15′11″N 120°08′07″E / 30.25306°N 120.13528°E / 30.25306; 120.13528