A Personal Symbol of Empowerment
In Japan, seals in general are referred to as inkan or hanko. The first evidence of writing in Japan is a hanko dating from AD 57, made of solid gold and belonging to the Emperor. At first, only the Emperor and his most trusted vassals held a hanko seal, as they were a symbol of the Emperor’s authority. Noble people began using their own personal hanko after 750 AD, and the Samurai began using them sometime in the Middle Ages. At the time, the Samurai were permitted exclusive use of red ink for their hanko impressions. Modernization of these seals began in 1870, and the hanko finally came into general use throughout Japanese society.
Traditionally, inkan and hanko are engraved on the end of a finger-length stick of stone, wood, bone, or ivory, with a diameter between 25 and 75 millimeters (1 and 3 in). Their carving is a form of calligraphic art. The most common form of this calligraphic art is the Japanese Kanji — the Chinese script.
They are still used in Asia for professional and personal purposes. Most requiring registration with local government offices much like a trademark. Continue reading