Finishing Touches

A Chinese chop seal

You don’t need us to tell you about the charm of a hand-written note. Everyone loves receiving a letter or card in their mailbox over their inbox, especially after a job interview or a big favor from a friend.

We aren’t picky about having the prettiest monogrammed stationery (although there is some floating around here), but one thing we love is putting our mark on it, literally.

The “chop” or 印鑑 (yìn jiàn) has been commonly used in China and Taiwan to sign letters and documents for thousands of years. Simple in design, a chop is made of either stone or plastic, with a Chinese character representing the person’s name inscribed on the bottom. The chop is then lightly pressed in a red paste called 朱砂 (zhūshā) and applied to the letter.

A Chop in Zhūshā

Today, surprisingly enough, chops can still be used to endorse checks and sign for registered mail in Taiwan and mainland China and are accepted as a form of I.D.

This particular chop was given to Laura by her aunt after a trip to China, but if you don’t want to travel so far, they can be found in souvenir shops in various Chinatowns.

The zhūshā puts a nice splash of color and personality on a crisp, white notecard—something your recipient will certainly notice. You could say it makes a great impression.

- Ryan

Laura's chop seal box

6 Comments

  1. Golden
    Feb 13, 2013 @ 13:56:28

    Love the personal touches – it’s a lost art that I hope can be revived.

    http://goldendreamland.blogspot.com/

    Reply

  2. Quiana
    Feb 13, 2013 @ 14:50:38

    I have never heard of a chop before but I think it’s a great idea for gift-giving! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  3. piccadillybug
    May 27, 2013 @ 14:03:07

    Lovely, and yes a lost art. looked on Amazon and it got awful review. do you have another source?
    thank you for your wonderful post.

    Reply

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