The Medieval Globe, Volume 4.1 (2018)
Special Issue: Seals: Making and Marking Connections across the Medieval World, edited by Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak. By placing medieval sealing practices in a global and comparative perspective, the essays gathered in this issue challenge the traditional understanding of seals as tools of closure and validation in use since the dawn of civilization. Far from being a universal technique, sealing is revealed as a flexible idiom, selectively deployed to mediate entangled identities: the introduction of Buddhism in early medieval China; the Islamization of Sasanian and Byzantine cultures; the balancing of Christian orthodoxy against classical and Muslim science; the development of civic consciousness in Byzantium; the efforts of tradesmen to brand merchandise for export; and the advancement of diplomacy from northern Europe to Indonesia. This examination of documentary seals, archaeologically recovered seal dies, and commercial and conceptual seals from cultures across the medieval world shows how skillful manipulation of their iconography, inscriptions, technology, and metaphorical meanings disseminated information, negotiated influences, asserted hegemony, and forged connections.
Editor’s Introduction, Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak Seals as Conceptual and Ritual Tools in Chinese Buddhism, ca. 700-1000 CE, Paul Copp Imprinting Powers: The Astrological Seal and Its Doctrinal Meanings in the Latin West, Nicolas Weill-Parot Medieval Solution to an Early Modern Problem? The Royal Animal Seals of Jambi, Annabel Teh Gallop Expressing New Rule: Seals from Early Islamic Egypt and Syria, 600-800 CE, Petra M. Sijpesteijn The Formulation of Urban Identity on Byzantine Seals, Claudia Sode A Mark of Quality: The Rise and Fall of the Cloth Seal, John Cherry Archeology and Sigillography in Northern Europe, Michael Andersen Medieval Treaties and the Diplomatic Aesthetic, Jessica Berenbeim
Brigitte Bedos-Rezak is a professor of history at New York University, specializing in the history of medieval northern France. One of her prime interests is medieval seals, what they reveal about the culture that produced them, and how changes in their meaning over the centuries indicated societal and cultural reformulations.