What Is The Meaning Of Seal Script?- Zhuan Shu

Chinese calligraphy in the form of seal script dates back thousands of years and has a unique expressiveness and aesthetic appeal. The majority of seal carvings use this ancient script. Given that it derives from characters sealed on bones or stones, its name is self-explanatory. Initially, it was a written form of communication, and the symbols of the language are called stamps. It is now regarded as a work of art. Learn more about the seal script in this article.

What is seal script?

seal script
seal script

The seal script is also known as the sigillary script. It was an ancient style of writing Chinese characters towards the end of the 1st half of the millennium BC. It exists in two forms. The large seal script known as Dazhuan is the earlier form derived from symbols. The small script is of a symmetrical structure. The script evolved out of the Zhou dynasty bronze script organically. But, later, the Qin variant of the seal script become the standard. During the Qin dynasty, it was the formal script for all of China. In most cases, seal scripts were used for commemorative records, engraving, and decorating purposes.

When was the seal script used?

It was used in ancient China throughout the end of the half of the 1st millennium BC. The origin of the seal script was the Zhou dynasty script. During the Qin Dynasty, they used the seal script more, for it became the standard. Thus it was adopted as the formal script for all of China during this Dynasty. Even during this time, it was used for seals, signets, name chops, and decorative engraving throughout the Han dynasty.

Kinds of seal script

There are two kinds of seal scripts, the large script and the small or lesser seal script. The large seal script covers a variety of seal scripts, including a variation of Qin writing and the earlier western Zhou forms and oracle bone characters. Since the large seal script lacks accuracy in detail and does not refer to any historical script, without any consensus in meaning, most modern scholars avoid it and mean small seal script when referring to seal script.

How to write a seal script?

To write a seal script, you need a writing brush. It has eight different brush strokes that you write in a few brush movements. There are three parts of the writing of each brush stroke, the attack, development, and end. To brush correctly, you should establish the correct tension between the brush, arm, and wrist. Hold the brush in the traditional Chinese way. As you write, maintain the brush tip in the center of the brush stroke and move it slowly with steady pressure. Thus, you create an artistic tension similar to signs carved into the wood. 

How to read the Chinese seal script?

zhuan shu

Reading Chinese seal script can be a challenge for modern Chinese do not know the symbols from the ancient Chinese writing for the Chinese language has evolved. A few people know it, and the small script is still used in stamp carving today. Therefore, most people can recognize them with external help. But, to read them, you need to be trained for the context is different from the word order, grammar, wording, and syntax. So, to read the Chinese seal script, you need external help and translation. 


Seal script is the splendor and beauty of Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. In China, it is challenging to understand the meaning of symbols and shapes in a text-based language. Thus, the seal script language seems lost. Seal script in China has departed from everyday use. But it still survives and flourishes in China today based on its exceptional artistic qualities. Thus, for its survival, efforts are being invested in having it in Unicode.

2 thoughts on “What Is The Meaning Of Seal Script?- Zhuan Shu”

  1. Phillup Brinkman

    Comment My name is Phillup Brinkman
    I am a old man, and I have been trying to get this seal script translated!
    Can you help me translate into English, and possibly, Japanese, and Mandarin as well? The seal script is carved on the bottom of this vary large seal stamp, with a large foo lion standing on top of the seal stamp part, that is eight inches long. I purchased this seal stamp from Japan! I do not know if it is actually a Japanese stamp! It is in the mail now on it’s way to my home! I can not yet take a photo of the script in mirror to to show what it would look like after it was used as a stamp. Any information, or a link to someone that can translate it would be greatly appreciated!
    I do not know if I can post photos here, so if you would like to see the stamp, please send a link to my gmail link, and I will happily send you photos from the seller!
    Thank you for your time, and help!
    My you live long, and prosper!
    Phillup Brinkman

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