History of the Chop A seal, in an East Asian context, is a general name for printing stamps and impressions that are used for acknowledgment or authorship. China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam currently use a mixture of seals and hand signatures, and increasingly, electronic signatures. Chinese seals are typically made of stone, sometimes of metals, wood, bamboo, plastic, or ivory, and are typically used with red ink or cinnabar paste. The word "yìn" in Mandarin, "in" in Japanese and Korean, which are pronounced the same, specifically refers to the imprint created by the seal, as well as appearing in combination with other ideographs in words related to any printing, as in the Japanese word "insatsu". The colloquial name chop, when referring to these kinds of seals, was adapted from the Malay word cap during the colonization of the Straits Settlements, and is still used to refer to rubber stamps.
How does your chop represent you? What is its symbolism?
Why do you think it was important to artisans to create a seal for their work? What significance might it have for the master to mark the work of the apprentice?
Make a connection to today. Where can you see this concept of the chop applied to other expressions in our culture?