谈到篆刻，小小方寸之间，学问博大，源远流长。 篆文顾名思义为写/刻在竹片上的文字，篆源自于瑑，最初文字都只见于将相贵族朝见天子使用的玉质礼器，因此文字为瑑（部首：玉），后竹简普及化，是为篆。 印章历史源远流长，在出土的殷商时期文物中就已见到用来封印的封泥， 殷商时期的篆刻作为印章形式已见雏形，用来检封扎起的竹简。 早期的印章多以铜铸，先以蜡块刻出印章，再以湿泥包起，待干后注入熔铜汁， 溶蜡吸入土中，铜汁取代蜡块的位置成为铜印。 一开始，只有士官大夫才使用印章，刻的都是官位头衔是为官印，直到汉代， 私印才渐渐的普及。
手工?刻的印章通常由刻印者设计，小小方寸之尽显博大中华文化精髓的精妙之初。 狭小的空间内，融合了字体笔画、排列、空间分布，红白间分的美感， 尽显艺术家的巧思及功力。
传统的名字印章入印的一般是名、字、号、或整合起来，如：苏轼，姓苏字子瞻或和仲，号东坡居士， 因此他的印章会有：“苏轼”、“苏”、“东坡”、“子瞻”、“和仲”、“东坡居士”、“苏东坡”、“苏子瞻”、“苏仲和”、“东坡子瞻”、“东坡和仲”等等，也有将居所、出生地、祖籍、官衔等等刻上的如“眉州苏轼”、“眉州苏氏”、“翰林学士苏轼”、也有刻上年龄的，如：“苏轼五十后作”，也有藏书印，印在自己收藏的书册／画卷中， 也有刻上堂号书斋，居所名字的印章，如：“东坡草堂”等等变化无穷。
Chinese seal engraving can be traced back to more than 3,000 years ago to the Shang Dynasty when the inscriptions on tortoise shells and bronze were available for recording happenings and ideas of human being. The early Chinese seals were in the form of engraved pictographic characters and simple decorative patterns. From archeological finds, bronze seals engraved with pictographic characters are known to have existed in the Shang Dynasty. Some of those crudely made seals, though not matured in a high art form, are indicative of the simplicity of beauty found in early civilization of China.
Chinese seals perform a simple, uniform purpose. They serve as a personal signature of their owner, or more significantly, they serve as the symbol of legitimacy for a ruler or a high social status. The use of seals in China originated during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods. There was a need for a formal system to record and preserve records of economic, military, and administrative functions. The development of Chinese seals, either from function or artistic forms, went on from craftspeople and artisans to the emperors and all walks of life.
Until the end of the Warring States Periods, there was only one way to classify seals – official and private, regardless of their use and material.
Official seals were conferred to officials to represent their rank and authority. These seals were usually small enough to be carried on the official's belt. Regulations existed as to the material and shape of the handle of these seals. Up to the Eastern Han Dynasty, the color of ink used to affix official seals was regulated depending on the position of each official.
Private seals were not regulated by the governments and therefore they had the largest variety in content, shape, size, material and calligraphy styles. Despite of their varied characteristics, they can still be categorized based on their uses. Seals with names, pen names, pseudonyms, and etc on them were used as a signature by people in their private life. This is how artists signed their works and letters. Chinese literati commonly used a number of different pen names. So identifying an artist's name from a seal can be a profound skill.
Collector's Seals ( 收藏章 ) were mainly used for the purpose of authenticating pieces of art. Thus a seal of a famous collector or connoisseur would become an integral part of a work of art and could substantially raise its value. Thus in the course of several centuries, some Chinese paintings became covered by a dozen of different seals.
The rest of private seals can be conveniently categorized as "Leisure Seals 閑章". The inscription on these seals is usually a short phrase quoted from a poem or saying that the seal owner thought was poetic or meaningful.
A master seal engraver must be able to write different styles of the Chinese scripts and arrange all the characters in a perfect balance. Sometimes the artist has to exaggerate the thickness or thinness of a stroke, elaborately straighten or curve it, or even deliberately deform an ideogram to create an artistic effect. Basically, a master seal engraver must also be a great Zuan Shu calligrapher.
A perfect seal also relies heavily on the engraver's speed and strength of his wrist and finger movements as well as the particular tools used. The engraver should also be very familiar with different materials like jade, gold, brass, and stone, so that he can apply the tool with the right strength and rhythm.
Seal carving is an integration of limitation and infinity. A seal's physical size and space are totally unproportionate to its spiritual content in a condensed art form. The meaning it intends to express is often extremely delicate and abstruse. Under the carving knives of outstanding seal engravers, dots, lines, raises, concave, sparsity, density, punching, and cutting have all become demonstrative elements in highly abstract forms.
A good seal stamp on a Chinese calligraphy or painting work will give the artwork a new look. A good Chinese painter or seal maker must be a good Chinese calligrapher because Chinese painting and seal making both have a strong root in Chinese calligraphy. However, a good Chinese calligrapher does not necessarily need to be a painter or seal maker. Nowadays people seem to neglect the strict rules of putting seal stamps on calligraphy and painting works in appropriate positions due to lack of study.