Seals have been symbols of identity and authority in China for more than 2,500 years.Seals are artistically engraved with Chinese characters (words) or sometimes pictures and used by pressing them into an oily red paste and then stamping them on documents or artworks to leave their mark. Seals have served as commanding emblems of identity and authority in China for thousands of years.
Li Lanqing (b.1932) is a prolific seal carver and calligrapher, who previously served as Vice Premier of the State Council of China from 1993 to 2003. In his retirement, Li has been instrumental in bringing about a dramatic transformation in the arts to return the traditional practices of seal carving and calligraphy to their previous popularity enjoyed in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911).
The themes that Li’s seals address are revealing about his own life as well as the history of progressive movements in twentieth-century China.