Ages ago a reader named Jane asked me what the red dragon image in the top lefthand corner of my website meant, and I have been meaning to blog about it ever since.
When the original cover for Dragonkeeper was being designed, I suggested that an impression of Ping’s imperial dragonkeeper seal be part of the design. Black dog books liked the idea and had a seal carved. The red dragon image is the impression of that seal.
I wanted it to say ‘dragonkeeper’, but the man who carved it couldn’t fit both unsimplified characters for ‘dragon’ and ‘protector’ on, so instead he carved a dragon around the edge and put the ‘protector’ character in the middle. It’s beautifully carved.
In Chinese a seal is called yìnzh?ng or ? ?. A seal is sometimes called a ‘chop’. This comes from a Malay word.
A seal is used to make a stamp or impression. In Chinese, Japanese and other Asian cultures they were used like signatures to verify the writer of a document or the painter of a painting. Seals have been in use since at least 500 BCE and people continue to use them today.
They are usually made out of stone and can be rectangular or cylindrical. Sometimes they have a decorative carving on one end. Mine, of course, has a dragon carved on it.
I got to keep the seal, and I use it when I sign the Dragonkeeper books. Tomorrow I’ll blog about the red seal ink.