Wednesday, September 28, 2011

oogly's Chinese Chop

My friend Nancy took a wonderful trip to China this summer. Since oogly hadn’t yet been to China, I sent one along with Nancy to see the sights and help spread goodwill. We’ll share the story of oogly’s trip to China later this year but today, I wanted to share the beautiful Chinese chop Nancy brought back – it’s the seal for “oogly” and it’s a gorgeous work of art. 
According to Henry Li who shares a wonderful video on YouTube showing how to make a Chinese chop, these pieces have been used for over 3,000 years as a personal or business “signature” for documents. Like many modern chops, the oogly chop was carved from soap stone. Chops can be positive or negative relief. If it is a positive relief (known as Yang) the characters will be red as a result of the ink on the raised part of the chop. If the chop is negative relief (known as Yin or intaglio), the characters will be white with a red background. The oogly chop is a Yang chop.
The red ink is a natural paste made of cinnabar.  It comes in a little pot with a lid that fits in the pretty fabric covered case where the oogly chop is stored.  As you can see below, the box for the chop is quite decorative – a fitting home for the chop.
In addition to carving the seal, the chop also has a beautifully carved handle. Often times, the handles are zodiac symbols or human forms. According to Henry Li, the face of the handle carving should be facing you when you press the seal on a document. That helps you remember which way to hold the chop when you are printing your seal.
I know we have lots of readers of our blog in China so I’m excited to have such a special gift from Nancy’s visit. I plan to use it in my art and my business whenever I can. Do any of you have a chop? We'd love to see photos!

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