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Stone Stamps

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Long before rubber was invented to make stamps, in the ancient times, Chinese people mainly used stone to create their stamps. In the beginning, stone stamps were functional—–they were created to represent their signature, to stamp on something that they own, or on some kind of written agreement which they had approved. These signature stamps were theoritically unique with authority.

I love the texture of stone stamps. Something rubber/eraser stamps cannot replace. The more I learn about stone stamps, the more I like them. First of all, you have to learn to choose a good stone. That’s already a course itself, I would say. My first stone stamp teacher was a retired Japanese gentleman. We had a chance to visit one of the most popular stationery shops in Tokyo for stone stamps, and my first mission was to choose several good stones out of a box of hundreds of them. That’s something I would not do when choosing eraser boards, as the boards itself are all standard under each brand. Skillful stone stamp carvers always pick the best stones at first sight. The more experienced you are, the better you could pick good stones.

Today I went to China to pick some stones for stamps. What my teacher told me was true: stone, just like other natural resources, are running out quickly. Good stones are scarce and are not easy to be found. And yes, once again, there are things money cannot buy. There are expensive stamps in many shops, but you can still find cracks here and there, and the shop assistant would not admit till you show them. It’s very much up to you to find your good stamps, and it’s more like a treasure hunt.

Perhaps that’s the fun part in stone stamps.

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Let Go and Be Freed

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I love to listen to parables of Buddhism. Many of these stories have a common message behind, which is the concept of letting go.

To let go of your wants, your greed, your expectations on things and people etc. and you will be freed.

Easier said than done.

To possess something is easy; to lose it is usually not. Especially when you once (or believe you have) own something you like, letting go of it can be very painful.

The waves of high expectations and disappointments, the come-and-go of things and people, the drifting among countries and jobs etc., are good lessons for me. My weakness is to let go of things that no longer belong to me. I hold some of them so tightly that my heart has no room for other things, till I find that those things I hold on to start to rotten as I squeeze them too tightly.

This is a stamp I created as a gift to myself. The Chinese characters on top of the lotus says “let go and be freed.”

I carve out the characters today with ease. Yet I know, one day I will put these words in life.