Daily Profit

The phrase “Daily Profit” (日利 rili) is commonly found on Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD) seals. The profit referred to might mean monetary income but I prefer to think it has something to do with constant self improvement. Here are just a few examples, all from the Han dynasty—but what is interesting is the range in designs using the same two characters.

These two characters are written from right to left in a round shape set into a decorative outer square enclosing white characters on a red background (baiwen).

These two characters are written from right to left in a square shape but with some confusion between light and dark. The character on the left is clearly written in red while the highly stylized character on the right appears to be white characters on a red background. Or is it? The design is a perfect balance of foreground and background; the eye and brain are not sure which is which. The broken lines add to this effect.

These two characters are written from top to bottom with red characters on a white background (zhuwen) in a rectangular shape. The top character takes up less space than the bottom character, resulting in an asymmetrical design. The lines are not of even width—adding interest, and breaks in the lines give an antique look.

These two characters are written from right to left with white characters on a red background (baiwen) in a round shape. The shape of the characters has been altered to fit the design.

These two characters are written from right to left with white characters on a red background (baiwen) in a square shape. The letters are so closely spaced that they touch in some places, making it more difficult to read but adding visual interest. The predominantly white left half contrasts with the two larger dark red spaces on the right side.

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