|| Starting from Ch’in and Han dynasties, it has been a common practice among the Han people, both officials at different levels of government and ordinary people in various castes of society, to employ seals and signets, many of which, as times wears on, have been left behind. As a result, a solid foundation based on this heritage of seals and signets has been laid for the investigation and research of its history, the bureaucratic hierarchy and lexicology. Moreover, with the addition of a personal touch, seals and signets are enhanced in terms of their aesthetic and literary value. Consequently, men of letters have been known to absorb themselves in this art form, further helping promote it to a more exquisite level. It has thus been ranked with poetry, painting and calligraphy and has in turn established itself as a unique art form.
Considering such a centuries old and wide scoped source of documentary information, there is supposed to be an urgent need to create a scientifically independent research mode for a more systematic academic survey and this is where most of the experts dedicated to sigillography are concentrating their time and energy: the history, the discourse and the craftsmanship of the sigillary art. The part of history focuses on the fundamental files and documents, the various stages of development in its different historical backgrounds. The part of discourse covers the historical views, the treatises on sigillography, and related research approaches. As regards the craftsmanship, it consists of connoisseurship and creation. Among the three, the part of craftsmanship is considered to have attained a relatively high level of maturity. The other two parts, the history and the discourse, have also been receiving attention from scholars in this area in recent years. A Survey and Investigation of the Printed Copies of Seals and Signets Hoarded in Public Libraries Across Taiwan is conducted with the history and discourse of sigillography as its keystone. The author of this research also holds that an extensive survey and organization of the printed copies of seals and signets paves the way for a research mode of sigillography.
There has never been found a systematic and comprehensive approach applied to the sigillary prints stocked in public libraries across in Taiwan. There also has been a lack in a complete probe into the historical stages of sigillary development in Taiwan, let alone anything about the history of seal engraving that can be called our own. A Survey and Investigation of the Printed Copies of Seals and Signets Hoarded in Public Libraries Across Taiwan, through the a systematic survey of categorical information, provides an abundance of substantial evidence in relation to the sigillary development in Taiwan, which has been left a lamentable void till the publication of this research result. The research work involved is made up of the following two parts: the editing of bibliography and the composition of prefaces and postscripts. The editing of bibliography aims at a proper understanding of the current status of library∼hoarded printed copies of seals and signets. On the other hand, the composing of prefaces and postscripts is done in the hope of presenting a more defined explanation about the thoughts and cultural backgrounds that lie in various historical contexts. It is the author’s hope that, with the aid of this comprehensive presentation of printed copies of sigillary works hoarded in public libraries across Taiwan, those who are interested in making a probe into the sigillary history in Taiwan can benefit from this research.