Traditional Stamps from the Far East That Rubber Stamp Lovers Should Know

by TownAdm1n

The history of the stamp begins in one of the first advanced cultures in human history: Mesopotamia. In the civilization that developed on the Euphrates and Tigris, the rulers used round cylinder seals 5000 years ago. From Mesopotamia, the use of stamps gradually spread to the west and east. In China, the use of traditional rubber stamps began at the time when the Chinese script emerged. 

THE CHINESE SEAL CARVING 

The Chinese seal carving has developed into a virtuoso art and leisure activity in the country of the middle. 

In addition to their official function, the seals also developed into an art form part of China’s cultural heritage. Even today, the best seal carvers enjoy the highest reputation in China.  

As early as the Shang Dynasty (1765-1122 BC), the Chinese carved words into animal bones or ceramics. But it was not until the Qin dynasty (222-206 BC) that seal carving – now mainly in soft stone – became popular. Initially practiced mostly by artisans, scholars and artists soon became interested in seal carving.  

This soon turned into a virtuoso, unique art that combined handicraft with calligraphy and composition. 

The main feature is that the artists only have one inch, i.e., twenty square centimeters, at their disposal. In this limited space, they have to accommodate the characters, artfully arrange them. They can thus tell whole poems or even short stories – literature and aesthetics are combined here on the smallest stage and express the artists’ feelings. 

In a confined space, talented seal carvers manage to tell entire stories with just a few characters. 

The individual seals are sometimes collected like postage stamps or coins – and even the symbol of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, the “Dancing Beijing” logo was such a seal symbol.  

In 2009, Chinese seal carving was finally declared an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO – and today, it is also a hobby that many Chinese also pursue in their free time. 

HANKO STAMP FROM JAPAN 

Almost everyone in Japan always has it with them: the Hanko stamp. 

As in China, everyone in Japan has their stamp because you would be lost in day-to-day business without them. The Hanko stamp, i.e., name stamp, replaces the signature there. Bank accounts cannot be set up, rental or purchase agreements concluded, or tax returns signed without it. Even getting married is not possible without a stamp. 

Therefore, every Japanese family member of legal capacity has at least one handcrafted, unique Hanko, the so-called Jitsu-in. This legal signature is secured by registration, only used for large business deals or buying a car or real estate. Otherwise, it is stored securely in the safe – because losing your signature is uncomfortable as it can be used for all sorts of mischief. 

For everyday use, for example, for accepting mail, most Japanese also have at least one second, cheaper stamp with their name, the loss of which does not immediately assume tragic proportions. If such a cheap name stamp gets lost, you simply buy a new one. 

KALAMKARI WITH INDIAN FABRIC STAMPS 

Indian fabric printing stamps are little filigree masterpieces of the art of carving. 

Textile printing is an age-old tradition in India and is deeply connected to the culture largely shaped by its cotton plantations. Kalamkari is derived from the Persian words ghalam, pen, and Kari, craft or artistry – i.e., art with a pen. 

Because filigree works of art were drawn on the fabric with pens. Only later did the Indians carve elaborate wooden stamps that are used for printing on fabric. 

Kalamkari textile printing is a demanding technique in which beautiful results require some perseverance and craftsmanship.  

Indian fabric printing stamps have a wide variety of shapes and patterns. 

Material: 

  • Cotton fabric 
  • Fabric scissors 
  • Indian wooden stamp 
  • Fabric paints 
  • Sponge and brush for applying the colors 
  • Water glass 
  • Brush (to clean the stamp) 

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