My Chop

Many years ago, I don't remember exactly when but I think it was in 1998 or so, I had this chop made:

It is not my name.

It was just around the time when I was getting articles published, having prints displayed and such. I got it into my head that people forget/ confuse names, so I should come up with something unique.

Chops are, of course, nothing new. They are used in many countries in Asia, equivalent to a signature.

I have never had a chop for my name, and I didn't really want one, especially for marking prints and such. It'd be too literal and normal just to get a name chop. Ho-hum, yawn.

One day, I found an elderly gentleman in a tiny shop in Singapore. I walked in, chatted for a while. I asked if he knew older characters/ words, not modern ones. 

You see, Chinese characters have evolved over time (and continue to evolve), much as words in alphabet-based languages change with time. 

The man (I wish I could remember his name!) said he did not, but he had a book that might interest me. He pulled out a tome, a thick, heavy book filled with etymologies of characters.

He helped me flip through. It was the first (and only) time I've ever consulted a reference like that. I gawked at the variations in characters over time. Some I immediately recognized; others, no clue.

Eventually, I asked to see the etymology of the character for ocean.

As we traveled back in time by tracing the evolution of the character in reverse chronology, the character that is now my logo caught my eye. I knew in an instant that this character was what I wanted.

It took him a little over a week to make the chop for me, and I've been using it ever since.

The interesting thing is, many people in Asia don't immediately recognize my logo as a precursor to the modern character for ocean. Granted, the character is old (I can't remember how old, but it was quite a way back in the etymology chain), but I made the association immediately. 

For comparison, here is how ocean is written today:

All my prints carry my logo chop, just so you know it's really me :)