Nakai Keisho (中井敬所)

Keisho NAKAI (1831 - 1909) is a tenkokuka (artist of seal engraving) in Meiji Period. He is known not only as a tenkokuka but also as the scholar who laid the foundations for Japanese sigillography.

His real name is 兼之, his common name 資同, and Keisho is his go (kabuki actor's offstage name which can be used officially and privately). He was born in Honjo, Edo.

Brief Personal History

His original family name is Moriyama. From early childhood, he studied tenkoku (seal-engraving) with his maternal uncle, Zoroku HAMAMURA (Ⅲ), and become a disciple of Gusho MASUDA at the age of 13. Two of his masters were big deals in the Edo tenkoku world belonging to Fuyo KO. At the age of 22, he was adopted to the Nakai family to engage their family business, metal-casting. After the Meiji Restoration, he became a serious tenkokuka, and earnestly studied tenkoku in China to bring the essence into his work. His inkoku (incised character) was influenced by the Chinese tenkokuka catalog especially Chen Yuzhong, and as for yokoku (raised character), he favored the style of Deng Shiru. He became the most famous conservative engraver of tenkoku in the seal world of the Meiji period, and developed a lot of disciples in Kantankyo-sha School. He also studied hard about old seals of China and Japan, and left remarkable literary works. In 1880, he carved the seal of state to present to the Meiji Government. After that, he served in a variety of posts such as the examiner of the third National Industrial Exhibition and Bureau for provisional national inspection of treasure, and in 1906, he became the first kenkokuka who was elected as Teishitsu Gigeiin (Imperial art expert).

Literary Works

"Compilation of seal marks, main and sequel"
"A Story of Japanese Engravers of Tenkoku"
"Dictionary of Imperial Seals"
"Encyclopedia of Japanese old seals"
"Collection of Antiques"