Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Joined a lunch hosted by Li Zhiqun, a senior politician and son of Li Lanqing who was Vice Premier of China in the late 90s to early 00s. The latter recently retired but continues to be active in, amongst other things, calligraphy and seal cutting (and I don't mean the slaughtering of marine mammals). He organized an exhibition in China which then traveled to Indonesia and his son is trying to bring it to the UK.

Seals were - and remain - extremely important to Chinese (and East Asian) officialdom and are the equivalent of Western signatures. They're also known as 'chops' and the nicer ones are made of wood, stone or ivory with the characters cut into the bottom. Most people in China have a personal seal. The script varies from basic modern characters to impossibly intricate and archaic ones which only academics can decipher. The ink used is usually red. It's a whole other world...

As was lunch, which included sea cucumber and abalone.

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