An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Yinzhang jishuo 印章集説

Jun 12, 2023 © Ulrich Theobald

Yinzhang jishuo 印章集説 "Collected explanation of seal inscriptions", also called Yinzheng fushuo 印正附説 "Attached explanations to the right [judgment of] seals" or Ganshi yinzheng fushuo 甘氏印正附説, is a text on seal carving and seal inscriptions written during the late Ming period by Gan Yang 甘暘 (late 16th cent.).

The Yinzhang jishuo is an attachment to Gan's Ji guyin zheng 集古印正 printed in 1596 which has a total length of 5 juan, but is is also circulating as a separate book.

The Yinzhang jishuo consists of 67 paragraphs that explain the history of seal inscriptions, the system of their use (imperial seals xi 璽, officials seals yin 印, various stamps zhang 章, and tallies or marks fujie 符節), the use of seals as historical sources through history, various carrier materials, styles of writing (zhuanfa 篆法), techniques of copying seal inscriptions (mo yin 摹印), the difference between "white/intaglio" and "red/cameo" inscriptions” (baiwen yin 白文印, zhuwen yin 朱文印), practical methods of seal carving (daofa 刀法) and the composition of words (zhangfa 章法) in these inscriptions, seal handles (yinniu 印鈕), the quality of inscriptions (yinpin 印品, with the three ranks "inspired", "marvellous", and "competent") or the production and qualities of seal paste (zhusha 硃砂). The text is thus an overview of all aspects of the art of seals.

然輕重有法中之法,屈伸得神外之神,筆未到而意到,形未存而神存,印之神品也。 Comprehension of the standards within the rules of light and heavy, achieving spirit beyond bending and stretching, grasping intention before the brush has set off, and creation of spirit before the shape is completed – this is inspired.
宛轉得情趣,稀密無拘束,增減合六法,挪讓有依顧,不加雕琢,印之妙品也。 If mediation achieves delight, if no restriction is imposed to distribution, if addition and reduction correspond to the six styles, if yielding and influence rely on each other without adding adornments – this is marvellous.
長短大小中規矩方圓之製,繁簡去存無懶散局促之失,清雅平正,印之能品也。 A regular method of eliminating mistakes of disparities, by alleviating contradictions of long and short, large and small, round and square, leading to pure elegance and right balance – this is competence.

The text is included in the book Jigu yinzheng and the series Zhuanxue suozhu 篆學瑣著, Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編, Meishu congshu 美術叢書 and Lidai yinxue lunwen xuan 歷代印學論文選. The series Xuehai leibian 學海類編 erroneously names Wen Peng 文彭 as the book's author.

Ming Yan 茗晏 (1996). "Yinzhang jishuo 印章集說", in Zhou Gucheng 周谷城, ed. Zhongguo xueshu mingzhu tiyao 中國學術名著提要, Vol. Yishu 藝術卷 (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe), 514.
Zhu Tianshu 朱天曙, Cheng Yu'er 程玉兒 (2022). "Yinzhang jishuo yu Gan Yang de yinxue wenxian 《印章集說》與甘暘的印學文獻", Rongbaozhai 榮寶齋, 2022 (10): 222-231.
Song Tao 宋濤 (2010). "Qiantan Yuandai Gan Yang Yinzhang ijshuo zhong you yi wu yi, ziran er ran de yisi 淺談元代甘暘《印章集說》中“有意無意,自然而然”的思想", Shufa changping 書法賞評, 2010 (3): 52-54.
Wang Chongren 王崇人, ed. (2002). Zhongguo shuhua yishu cidian 中國書畫藝術辭典, Vol. Zhuanke 篆刻卷 (Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin yishu chubanshe), 49.