Important Cultural PropertySeal of Hōryūji temple

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  • 1 piece
  • Bronze
  • Seal side6.0x6.0 totaL H7.3
  • Asuka period/7th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • N-84

The official seals of the government and government offices started to be used in Taihō 1 (701), followed by those of shrines and temples, which were made in a similar style. According to the record, in Hōki 2 (771), official seals were distributed to the twelve temples in the five provinces surrounding Kyoto (kinai) for the first time.
The seal of Hōryūji temple has a square face, with damaged edges. The letters on the face are deeply molded and the handle is ginkgo-leaf shaped, wide and high. The size of the face and the style of the letters appear to follow those of the official seals of the government in the same period, which were made in accordance with the regulations for provincial seals. This seal exemplify the characteristics of the middle period of the old Japanese-style seals; it is unfortunate that such a precious piece was damaged by fire.
The seal of Ikaruga-dera temple's storehouse has a flat face, with the letters shallowly molded. The handle is soft-edged and wide, with a top part with a hole (keitōchū, lit. bird-head button). The record of the temple tells that this seal is a bestowal from Emperor Kōnin, but the time of production is thought to be later than his time.