Contemporary Chinese Seals by
Li Lanqing

1 November 2012 – 15 January 2013

Exhibition closed

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Seals have been symbols of identity and authority in China for more than 2,500 years. This exhibition features over 100 exceptional seals made by artist Li Lanqing, who has revived and transformed this traditional art.

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).

This exhibition is an opportunity to discover the richness of contemporary Chinese culture with over 100 exceptional examples of Li Lanqing’s carved seals, two brush-written calligraphies and the tools he uses. 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. The exhibition is presented in a gallery that also showcases some of the British Museum’s world-famous collection of Chinese art.

Li Lanqing (b. 1932), The British Museum. Chinese seal made of wood and coated with industrial lacquer, 2012. © Li Lanqing. The artist will donate this object to the Museum in November 2012.

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Contemporary Chinese Seals
Find out more about the exhibition in this downloadable guide by Lin Lanqing