To learn seal carving, please first sort out the “emblem” and “Zhejiang”, and define “clumsy” and “clever”

To learn seal carving, we feel that the “clumsy” and “ingenious controversy” between Wu Rangzhi and Zhao Zhiqian in the late Qing Dynasty is very crucial, and even the seal altar that must be known to learn seal carving, because it has a huge impact on the printing altar of later generations. Therefore, today we will take out Zhao Zhiqian’s “Book Yangzhou Wu Rangzhi Printing Manuscript” and read it carefully, hoping to help you.

In order to facilitate reading, we use the method of segmented explanation, one paragraph of original text, and one paragraph of explanation. Details are as follows:

[Original] There are two cases of the imprint family, Yuhui and Zhejiang. After Emperor Zhejiang’s own family was idle, he became a habit, and although it was extremely ugly, it was still popular with everyone. Huizong has no novelty and gratifying status, and it seems easy to learn but difficult to learn. Ba (Yuyi) and Hu (Chengdong) were killed, and the fire was not extinguished, relying on Yangzhou Wu Rangzhi. Jean Zhi imprinted, more than ten years ago, I saw one or two, and I was greatly impressed.

Commentary: Even if it has been developed until now, the big schools in the Indian world still follow two sects in the north and south: one is the northern school Huizong, whose main knife technique is the punching knife, and the Huizong is relatively complex, including: 1. The early Hui school, with Cheng Wei as the representative figure; 2, the Four Phoenix School: that is, the eight monsters, the four phoenixes (detailed in the previous article), etc.; 3. The fourth son. i.e. Dong, Ba, Hu, Wang (Wang); 4. Deng Pai, represented by Deng Shiru and Wu Rangzhi.

(Deng Shiru, representative of Emperor Huizong)

The second is the Southern Zhejiang Sect, whose main knife technique feature is the cutting knife. The genealogy is relatively simple, represented by the “Eight Families of Xiling”.

(Ding Jing, representative of Zhejiang)

Huizong originated early, and after Deng Shiru and Wu Rangzhi, it developed greatly, and the Zhejiang school originated a little later, but after Zhao Zhichen (character idle), the seventh family of the “Eight Families of Xiling”, the printing style gradually solidified and became a stylized creation, gradually losing its vitality, so the Zhejiang school was “rising and dying” (of course, there was also the “new Zhejiang school” of Wang Fuan and others, that is a later story. )

Zhao Zhichen is a high-production printer, busy with engraving and printing for money, so most of his works are stylized creations, but despite this, it has become popular fashion, so Zhao Zhiqian said that after the development of the Zhejiang school to Zhao Zhichen, although it is very ugly, it is the printing style favored by the public.

Huizong did not have a new and gratifying appearance, and rushed forward with a knife, which seemed easy to learn, but in fact it was relatively difficult.

Ba Yu is Ba Weizu, and Hu Chengdong is Hu Tang (he calls himself Old Man Chengdong), in fact, the two of them are the representatives of the “four sons of Huizong”.

(Portrait of Ba Weizu)

After the death of Ba and Hu, Emperor Huizong’s salary did not go out because there was also Yangzhou Wu Rangzhi (Wu Rangzhi is not actually from Yangzhou, he is from Jiangsu Yizheng, he just lived in Yangzhou for a long time), and Wu Rangzhi studied Deng Shiru’s “printing from the book”, although it is Huizong, but it is very different from Ba and Hu’s Huizong, and the difference in its creative mode is fundamental, and Zhao Zhiqian has not yet realized or has not clearly distinguished.

(Portrait of Wu Rangzhi)

The seal engraved by Wu Rangzhi, ten years ago, Zhao Zhiqian had seen one or two parties, admired and admired. (This is actually the reason why Zhao Zhiqian’s early self-printing cultivation was not deep.) )

This autumn, Wei Jiasun came from Taizhou to finalize Jean. Let it be reproduced two seals to make the grandson send the surplus, but you have to see the before and after. Give it to the Yinzong Deng clan, and to the Han people. Years of strength, solid fingers, abide by the teacher’s law, dare not overcome, and Yu Yin is an energy product.

This was the autumn of 1863, a crucial year, and in fact the year of Zhao Zhiqian’s mastery. In this year, Wei Jiasun (that is, Wei Xizeng, character Jia Sun) went to Taizhou to meet Wu Rangzhi (at this time, Wu Rangzhi was in Taizhou to avoid the war of the Taiping army, he went to see Wu, actually carrying Zhao Zhiqian’s seal for Wu Rangzhi to comment) and then returned, and began to compile the “Seal of Wu Rangzhi”, and also brought back the seal engraved by Wu Rangzhi to Zhao Zhiqian from both sides. In addition to seeing these two seals up close, Zhao Zhiqian also had the opportunity to see almost all of Wu Rangzhi’s representative works.

(Wu Rangzhi’s two seals presented to Zhao Zhiqian)

Note that at this time, Zhao Zhiqian’s level of printing theory had advanced by leaps and bounds, and when he looked at Wu Rangzhi’s works, he was no longer as impressed as he was back then, but began to turn to pertinent criticism, and after discussing with Wei Xi, he believed that Wu Rangzhi’s printing completely complied with Deng Shiru’s law, and eventually returned to the law of the Han people (Wu Rangzhi had been in Han printing for more than ten years). The evaluation is very honest: “I have a long time, and my fingers are solid.” But there is also a problem, that is, they dare not innovate (we know: in fact, Wu Rangzhi has innovation, which is to solve the problem of Baiwenyin’s “printing from the book”). The final conclusion is: Wu Rangzhi’s engraving is considered a “capable product” level, which is neither a “wonderful product” nor a “divine product”.

You see, his evaluation of Wu Rangzhi has decreased, this is not Zhao Zhiqian changing his mind, it is that he has improved in the achievement of printing studies.

[Original] On Zhejiang, it is urgent to call it idle. The second idle learning Mansheng, and losing material strength, let it be inferior to Mansheng. Mansheng carved himself to know that he was inferior to Long Hong and Qiuan, so he changed the law and fled. Let the thin dragon hong, Qiuan. Jiang Shantang was imprinted outside the homes to create a strange path, and God was everywhere and inferior. Let it not believe in the mountain hall. People think that it is biased, but it is not. Zhejiang Sect is also a clever entrant, and Huizong is also a humble entrant. Now let the engraving, a vertical and a painting, must seek to show the momentum, is tired of the clumsy in and willing to come out of the clever. Emperor Zhejiang saw that it was not idle. Man Shengqiao seven and clumsy three. Long Hong forgot his clumsiness. Qiuan is clever. Yamado is clumsy and pregnant. Let it be called subordinate.

Commentary: It is probably that Wei Xi once passed on Wu Rangzhi’s comments, so Zhao Zhiqian also has to say his own views: Wu Rangzhi talked about Zhezong and extremely praised Zhao Zhichen. Zhao Zhichen learned the seal from Chen Mansheng, but his talent was insufficient, but Wu Rangzhi thought that Chen Mansheng’s (i.e. Chen Hongshou) seal was inferior to Zhao Zhichen.

(Zhao Zhichen’s immortal dependents)

Chen Mansheng knew that his engraving was inferior to Ding Jing (Long Hong) and Huang Yi (Qiuan), so he changed his style to cover up his shortcomings and escape himself, in fact, by Chen Mansheng, the Zhejiang school had begun to decline. But Wu Rangzhi thought that Ding Jing and Huang Yi were not well printed.

(Chen Mansheng: Mansheng)

It is also said that Jiang Shantang (that is, Jiang Ren), Zhao Zhiqian believes that Jiang Ren has a unique way outside Ding Huang, and his expression is unique, and Ding Jing is still inferior, but Wu Rangzhi does not like Jiang Ren.

Immediately after, it is Zhao Zhiqian’s conclusion: people think that this is Wu Rangzhi’s prejudice, but in fact, this is not the case, the Zhejiang school is printed by chance, and Emperor Huizong is imprinted by clumsiness, and now we look at Wu Rangzhi’s works, each of his strokes must seek to stretch the momentum, which is determined by the aesthetics that he hates “clumsy” and is willing to use “clever”. It is clear that Zhao Zhiqian thinks that Wu Rangzhi’s aesthetic is like “clever” and disgusted with “clumsy”, so he likes Zhao Zhichen and does not like Ding Jing, Huang Yi, Jiang Ren and so on.

Then, he evaluated the degree of ingenuity of the Zhejiang school: the most “clever” of the Zhejiang school is Zhao Zhichen, and Chen Mansheng is seven clumsy; Ding Jing forgets and forgets clumsiness (in fact, this is the great master, there is no coincidence in his heart), Huang Yiqiao is clumsy, and Jiang Ren is clumsy. You see, everything that is clumsy is more than clever, Wu Rangzhi does not like it. And the favorite is Zhao Zhichen.

[sic] Let Zhi discuss Yu Yin, the one who is close to the official seal of the Han Dynasty is true, and he is not. And it is said that learning Deng’s is the same, but not the end. If you don’t let it, you can’t know it, and your words have a reason, you can’t make it easy, and you don’t have to discern.

Commentary: Immediately afterwards, Zhao Zhiqian began to analyze Wu Rangzhi’s evaluation of his own works: Wu Rangzhi evaluated Zhao Zhiqian’s seal, everything close to the Han seal is considered a good work, while other works think that there is a problem (mainly to make the head comfortable), and he believes that Zhao Zhiqian is learning from Deng Shiru and has entered the door of Deng Shiru. Although this is also true, it is not entirely true (Zhao Zhiqian has begun to explore “seeking printing outside India” at this time, so he thinks that he has exceeded the scope of the Deng school), but he objectively believes that Wu Rangzhi does not recognize this, limited to Wu Rangzhi’s own aesthetics, which no one can change, so there is no need to debate.

(Portrait of Zhao Zhiqian)

In fact, it is the most important and basic thing to learn seal carving for the beginning, establish your own aesthetic and gradually improve.

【Original】Mr. Chi Qian, a young Japanese teacher, a classmate who is Ziyun, mechanics poems, began to learn the seven sons of the Ming Dynasty, both Song and Yuan, Tang, then Jin, and then Han and Wei, his words are based on three hundred articles, poor years and months, for which they are endless, they have to cherish their own sentences, and they will chant long when they meet people. The rest of the time does not like to be poetry, not a few years of writing, occasionally composed, written by hand, into dozens of words, Ruozhuang, Ruo, Ruo, Ruofu, Ruofu, Ruo, Ruo, Yu Yiyun insulted himself as stupid. Can’t compete, the master of quality.

(Zhao Zhiqian: bend the waist for five bucket meters)

The master told himself from Yun, Ru Shi Qiao (jù, poor) son of man, diligent and thrifty operation, accumulated inches, with the end of production, the first ten hundred, over time and tens of millions, experienced difficulties, deeply self-care, and did not spare himself. He grew up luxuriously, with daily food, palace wives and concubines, slaves, dogs, and horses, and did whatever he wanted, indulged in chases, admired the rangers, chased the sons at night, and the end of the string song, and counted the numbers. Fortunately, there are many goods, not years and teeth, squandered, and there is no danger of falling. But it’s fun, and people are worried. Ziyun is still eager to fight, and Yu Jiao Khan is still dying.

Interpretation: We don’t need to explain this paragraph in detail, because this paragraph is an example given by Zhao Zhiqian in order to illustrate the difference between “clever” and “clumsy”, and this example is his experience of studying with Shen Fusu when he was young. He has a classmate named He Ziyun, who studied poetry hard, learned the Ming Seven Sons the most, and then went back to the Song and Yuan dynasties, and then the Tang Dynasty, and then returned to Han and Wei, tracing the roots to the “Book of Poetry”, and then the words must be based on the three hundred poems, and after years and months, he devoted himself to chanting, and when he got the wonderful sentence, he quickly wrote it down, and when he met people, he chanted it for a long time.

(Wu Rangzhi: It is difficult for sea watchers to be water)

And Zhao Zhiqian did not like poetry at that time, so his poetry was unfounded, or solemn, or ridiculous, or Confucianism, or Buddhist words, or classical, or rural words, or ancient scriptures, and sometimes like children’s words, He Ziyun was disgusted and thought that Zhao Zhiqian was epileptic (simply neuropathy). However, Zhao Zhiqian also did not like He Ziyun, thinking that he was stupid and foolish.

The two could not argue, so they went to ask the teacher, and the teacher told He Ziyun: Your poems are like children from poor families, diligent every day, and they must be compared, little by little, and slowly accumulate some wealth, only ten hundred at first, and finally accumulate tens of thousands after a long time. Because it is not easy to accumulate, I cherish it very much and refuse to relax at all. And his (Zhao Zhiqian) poems, such as the son of a rich family, born in a prosperous family, rich in daily diet, a group of wives and concubines in the family, many slaves and servants, he can do whatever he wants, he is unruly, he longs to become a ranger in the morning, and he is like a prodigal son at night, the string song here is not ending, the song and dance there is again, the money is so much that he can’t spend it until he dies, and he never worries that life is not settled, so he is happy and free, while others worry for him.

He Ziyun (after listening) wanted to argue, but after Zhao Zhiqian listened, he broke out in a cold sweat and continued all day long.

Zhao Zhiqian wrote this paragraph to illustrate that people’s style is predestined, and once aesthetics are formed, they must affect the style of the work.

(Zhao Zhiqian: Zhao Zhiqian original seal)

[Original] The imprint of Jinjang is not compared with self-poetry, and what he has done in the rest of his life is not only the seal and poetry, and it is also the same. Jia Sun and Yu are the best, do not engrave, and since the Qin Dynasty, the engraving is cleverly and precise, its words are subtle, and there are those who let it and Yu can not speak, with the quality of the book. On the 3rd day of October 20 of Tongzhi Luhai, he will audit Zhao Zhiqianshu, and he will be the same guest of Jingshi at that time. (1863)

(Wu Rangzhi: Shen Ping Zhang Zi Xie Xuan Original Seal)

Now the seal engraved by Wu Rangzhi is roughly equivalent to He Ziyun’s poem (which belongs to the accumulation of the son of a poor family). And what I do in my life, whether it is printing or poetry, is not the same (such as rich children).

Wei Xi was once a close friend of Zhao Zhiqian, he did not engrave the seal, but he collected and appraised everyone, he identified the seals since Qin with cleverness to carefully distort them, his arguments are very subtle, there are some arguments that Wu Rangzhi and I can do but can’t say. Write this letter to discuss with him. This is followed by the date, signature, and place where the letter was written.


This article is very famous in the history of printing studies, it points out the aesthetic difference between “qiao” and “clumsy” in printing, in fact, it also demarcates the distinction between “clumsy” and “clever” of Huizong and Zhejiang. After that, “Emperor Huizong from humble entry, Zhejiang Sect from coincidence” is almost conclusive, and most of the later generations learned seal carving like this:

If you enter by skill, you will learn Zhejiang, and if you enter clumsy, you will learn the emblem.

(Portrait of Wu Changshuo)

But Zhao Zhiqian’s statement is not to the end, because Zhao Zhiqian’s article is praise and disparagement, which is not comprehensive. In fact, we advocate learning from Ding Jing and learning from his “forgetting and forgetting cleverness”, of course, that realm is too high, but Zhao Zhiqian and then Wu Changshuo on “cleverness” and “clumsy” have a more wonderful exposition: “The reluctant has years, does not pay attention to factions, does not care about work, knows a little about its interest, and is a little poor…” Obviously, in terms of talent, Wu Changshuo is far inferior to Zhao Zhiqian, but in terms of realm, Wu Changshuo seems to be more intelligent.

([Lao Li Ketang] No. 339, some pictures are quoted from the Internet, the copyright belongs to the original author)

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