Established in 1904 (the 30th year during the reign of Emperor Guangxu in Qing Dynasty), Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society is a society of literati and artists with the longest history among those still existing in China and is also China’s first professional academic organization specializing in stone seal carving. Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society was registered at the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, but it also enjoys a high reputation in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Southeast Asia. It is a national-level society which takes up an esteemed position in the circle of traditional Chinese culture and has international influence.
Since its establishment over 100 years ago, Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society has always been sticking to the tenet of “Preserving stones, studying seal theories and integrating calligraphy and painting”. While focusing on seal carving creations and seal studies, it is also dedicated to related fields of study such as calligraphy, painting, classical poems and essays, collection appraisal, archaeology and characters, and pays attention to the traditional cultural accomplishments of literati and scholars. Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society is engaged in artistic exploration of classical in the form of social organization with modern meanings. It advocates diversity of art based on broad operation philosophies. In spring and autumn every year, member party is organized, at which activities such as art exhibition, academic seminar, creation forum and appraisal communication are held. Under the modern culture context in which the traditional culture gradually declines, we still preserve the complete organizational culture form which has temperament traditional literati and scholars. At present, Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society has 506 members distributed in countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, France, the US, Canada and the Czech Republic, basically covering backbones in the circle of stone seal carving at home and abroad. It also undertakes the significant task of carrying over and developing the contemporary art of stone seal carving.
With Gushan Shezhi site, a cultural relic under state protection, and China Seal Studies Museum, a professional museum of national level, Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society is also the carry-over and representative organization of the project of “Stone Seal Carving (Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society)” in representative works of the first group of national-level cultural heritages of the People’s Republic of China. In 2009 “The Art of Chinese Seal” jointly declared by Xiling Seal Engraver’s Society and China Academy of Seal Engraving, Chinese National Academy of Arts, successfully entered the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Thus, the seal engraving and seal art of China have opportunities to be known and recognized by more people in regions and countries all over the world.
Seal is an important element in the course of development of human civilization. In Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Sumeria, China and other cultural forms, character carved symbols in the form of inscriptions on oracle bones were once found. However, with pass-down and continuation of this newly borne character system, the Chinese seal is the only one that is still of vitality. From the perspective of the use method and the shape, Chinese seal also has its uniqueness which is different from “imprints” in other civilizations. Chinese seal is an important carrier of Chinese history and civilization, which has been commonly applied in social life for over thousand years. Further more, due to the intervention of aesthetic interest of literati and scholars, a series of programs and standards of Chinese seal has been developed, and various artistic schools have come into being, thus deriving abundant social cultural ecology such as formation of association by literati and scholars, making Chinese seal a significant part of Chinese civilization.