Seal is said to have its origin in Ancient Mesopotamia (a part is now Iraq, and the civilization is regarded as the world oldest) more than 5000 years ago. The earliest seal is called Cylinder seal. These cylindrical stones and bones, on which side surface are engraved with pictures and letters, are thought to have been rolled on clay to stamp the pictures and letters.
And the purpose was to identify the dedicator of the offerings to shrine.
The Cylinder seals often have a hole through which string passes. The owners put it around their neck to display their authority as well as a good luck charm.
In 517, the ancient country of Japan received an official seal from the Han dynasty. It is "King of Na gold seal", and is now designated as a National Treasure of Japan as the oldest seal exists in Japan. And under Taiho Code (701), kanin (official seal) system was provided, and marked the first step toward Japanese seal history. Later, "private seal" was created and started to be used among Kuge (court nobles), however, written monogram became prosperous instead of seal in the late Heian period.
But in Muromachi period, because of Buddhist monks from Chinese Song dynasty, the use of seal became a custom again to stamp paintings and writings, and was introduced into Samurai society. In the age of civil wars, Daimyo (feudal lords) used the seal, instead of time-consuming written monogram, as an informal signature to guarantee documents.
In Edo period, a custom of putting one's seal on private documents as well as on administrative documents spread. Seal books were started to be created at the same time for seal registration, and it is the origin of later Seal registration system in Japan. In Edo period, seal was used to guarantee common people's property, so it was treated as important, as shown in an example where people compared it to something important other than their own life. Such a mentality established the culture of seal unique to Japan. Meiji government thought that it was a bad habit to attach too much importance to seal, and tried to introduce the system of signature following Western countries, but dissenting opinions were received one after another due to complicated clerical work and low literacy rate of those days. After a subsequent discussion, a system was established by 1900 to admit the most documents when there were the name and seal on them instead of the signature. And, it was also Meiji period when the seal registration became the clerical work of the municipality.
The most important seal used for real estate buying and selling, purchasing car, obtaining bank loan and etc.
The important seal used exclusively for bank transactions.
The seal frequently used in home and an office.
An abbreviation of Rakusei Kanshiki-in. Rakusei means completion, and Kanshiki means sign and seal,
A rectangular seal put on upper-right of the writing work. Engraved is such as favorite word, proverb, motto and etc.
Engraved is artist's full name, and the seal is put above Shubun-in. It is engraved from upper-right to lower-left.
Engraved is artist's pen name, and the seal is put below Hakubun-in. It is engraved from right to left.
The seal is absolutely necessary for legal personality registration and other important documents.
The important seal used exclusively for bank transactions. Since it is used and carried about frequently, it's better not to use the company's registered seal for this purpose.
This square seal is used frequently for receipt, statement of delivery and etc.