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Introduction
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The seal was a common feature of some ancient Western cultures as well as that of China, where its heritage still remains an integral part of modern daily life. In fact, in many areas where Chinese culture and its influences are found, you impress a seal to verify the receipt of money. Need to "sign" a contract or "seal" a deal? Don't forget your seal! Whether they be official documents or daily matters, without impressing a seal, it just doesn't seem quite formal or presentable. Even when Taoist masters compose talismans, they still make red impressions with seals on sacrificial pigs during Ghost Festival ceremonies. A show of power, ensuring peace, or offering blessings--there is almost nothing a seal cannot do! Not just today, but even people in ancient times did exactly the same, if not even more. In fact, evidence of seals can be found everywhere in China's past and is intricately related to the Chinese written language, which goes back three thousand years. A wide variety of materials was used to make seals, many clever techniques utilized to create and ornament their knobs, and various calligraphic scripts adopted to compose the written contents on the seal surface. Encompassing everything from official administration to people's names, phrases of reminder and auspiciousness, lines of poetry, and lively pictorial imagery, these have all come to enrich the contents of seal surfaces--the world of these small objects being immense indeed! The collection of the National Palace Museum includes more than 1,650 bronze seals and almost 250 stone and jade seals collected or made by the Ch'ing dynasty court. The Museum is also the proud recipient of donations and entrustments of more than 610 modern and contemporary seal carving masterpieces and seals made of bamboo, wood, ivory, stone, and horn. The collection is home to two of the earliest Chinese imperial seals from the Shang dynasty, purchased in the early days of the National Central Museum. Spanning three thousand years of Chinese history and a wide assortment of types and formats, the collection is considerable. The small square of a seal is almost unlimited in terms of expression. The traces left behind by these objects each have a story to tell, and following their fascinating paths hopefully will make a mark in the memories of your visit, finding resonance with them. Will traveling through the world of seals, both traditional and modern, leave a lasting impression on you, too?