It is generally believed that ancient China’s Official Historian of the Yellow Emperor, named Cangjie, was responsible for the creation of Chinese characters. The Cathaysian history and culture has survived more than 5,000 years, and continues today as a direct result of the creation of Chinese characters. The name seal is one of the most representative treasures found in the inherited essence of the Cathaysian culture. There are plenty of speculations around the origins of the name seal. There is evidence based on historical records, presented by unearthed relics, and most convincing of all, by the view that the name seal originated from an ancient contract written in oracle and inscription carved on bronze vessels of the Shang Dynasty (17th-11th B.C.). It was widely used during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, and it is still used today. One interesting fact regarding name seals is that they served not only as the proof of identity but also as the symbol of social status or authority of a person. When the name seals were stolen or taken away from a person, there could be a high chance for identity theft to happen. In other words, a person’s identity could be determined solely by name seals, which explains why they were often taken more seriously and valued more highly than the person. The contradictory nature of name seals certainly made them remarkably special and irreplaceable throughout history.
Mr. Yi is an overseas Chinese living in the U.S. who gained his expertise in this field not only by extensive learning under the renowned master Guo Gong-Sen but also through intense self-education. He began his studies as a child by listening to his father’s teachings. He is a fan of the Cathaysian Culture, and is proud to be a descendant of the Yan Emperor and the Yellow Emperor. Upon starting a business, he began to travel extensively to both sides of the Taiwan Straits. Likely due to his innate interests and family traditions, during his free time he would hang around bazaars that traded in ancient relics. He would examine the relics and rapidly determine whether they were real or fake based on their historical context and current conditions. Obviously, all these years of training has made him a collector with unique eyesight. Now he can collect rare treasures by excluding inferior items and preserving the good ones. Most of his collection comes from China in which ancient China and Shoushan stones were his main areas of interest. Sharing great similarity with Mi Fu, who lived in the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127) and was well-known as a collector and connoisseur, Mr. Yi is a stone-person who is captivated by and obsessed
Since ancient times, Taiwan has been called the “State of the Indigenous People,” “Okinawa,” or “Ryukyu Kingdom.” Alternatively, the Portuguese who first came upon the island called it “Ilha Formosa.” Residents of Taiwan and Mainland China shared the same culture, ethnicity, and bloodlines with national sentiment. When the Taiwanese and Chinese governments opened up tourism with one another, the Cathaysian cultural exchange on both sides interactively and inevitably proceeded without much interference, for people have shared the same language, the same customs, and the same interests for over a thousand years. Only through continuous cultural exchange can people from both sides get to know and understand each other, learning to live together harmoniously while still maintaining their cultural diversity. Disputes can be resolved and troubles can be fixed. I believe the time of peace for people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait will come and a new era will arrive for the descendants of the Yan Emperor and the Yellow Emperor.
I’m so pleased that Mr. Yi is willing to showcase his collection of Shoushan stones to the public. Taiwan’s National Museum of History will host the exhibition “Experience the Stone Arts—Shoushan Stone Carving Exhibition” from December 23, 2016 to March 5, 2017. A booklet featuring the entire collection presented at this exhibition will also be published. This perfectly exemplifies the spirit of Confucianism known as “Better to entertain others than simply enjoying yourself” as written in The Book of Mencius. How fortunate I am for the opportunity to be present to witness this show! Thus, I write down this preface and wish this exhibition will be a great success!
Emeritus Professor at Tamkang University