篆書 (Jp: tensho; Ch: zhuanshu)
Seal script reflects the earliest form of Chinese calligraphy. It developed during the Zhou Dynasty (c. 1045–256 BCE) and was standardized around 300 to 200 BCE. Ultimately the script fell out of favor due to its linearity, which did not lend itself to the fluid strokes of the calligrapher’s brush. It did, however, continue to be used for seal carvings, which were generally made of stone and were used to apply an individual’s official signature or identifying mark to a document or other object.
The script underwent a revival from around 1600 to 1900 CE, and was used as visual shorthand for archaism, a reference to the ancient world. It was especially favored by scholars interested in Chinese antiquity.