The Art and the Artist of the Seal

For any artist engaged in traditional arts of the East, the personal seal is essential. It functions as a signature, but also carries much deeper meaning and symbolism. My Chinese painting teacher has collected nearly 1700 hand-carved seals (each engraved with his name, painting name, studio name, etc) over the course of his (still) vibrant 88 years. He has lamented that the craft of seal-designing and carving has become all but extinct. Even in China, the number of masters who carry on the traditional methods has been reduced to a small handful.

Delightfully, the traditional art of the seal is alive and well in a most unexpected place. Tashi Mannox, an Englishman who was a Buddhist monk for 17 years, studied intimately with the great masters and emerged as a calligrapher and artist of the highest order. Additionally, he has learned and mastered a highly specialized form of Tibetan/Mongolian seal-crafting, created in the 13th century at the time of the Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan, who’s empire covered much of China, Tibet, Mongolia and reached as far as Russia and Vietnam.

The script for the seal is known as Horyig.

Several months ago, I commissioned Tashi to create a seal for me. Above is the wonderful result. The seal says “Mahāprāṇa” which translates as “Great Life Energy.”

If you are interested in having a personal seal created I can’t recommend Tashi highly enough! Also, his Tibetan and proto-Sanskrit calligraphy is off the charts!!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris Gramly
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 06:49:43

    Great post Josh! Very inspiring, especially after watching this video about Tashi: Thanks for sharing.


    • mahaprana
      Jan 22, 2011 @ 20:22:17

      thanks Chris! I really like the video on Tashi. He seems filled with joy, not to mention an abundance of talent.


  2. antonia
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 02:15:45

    i bumped into your post, joshua, then chris’ comment w/the vimeo link right before i turned 40. the video was so touching, beautiful; i love him!


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