Primary Source: The Gold Seal 一次史料:金印

The Kin’in 金印 (Gold Seal) was found in 1784 on Shikanoshima 志賀島 in Hakata Bay 博多湾. It is square-shaped, measuring 2.34 centimeters on each side, and it weighs 108.7 grams. There is a long history of contentious debate about its authenticity, with some scholars claiming it is a forgery and others that it is the seal that was presented to the “King of Na” in Japan in 57 CE (an event mentioned in the fifth-century Hou Han shu 後漢書 (History of the Later Han Dynasty). Nearly everything about the seal is up for debate, including how to interpret its five-character inscription, 漢委奴國王 (Jp: Kan no Wa no Na no kokuō; Ch: Han Wei Nu guowang), which one scholar has rendered as “[seal awarded to] the ruler of the state[let] of Na within Wa under the Han” (Fogel 2013, 20).

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(Photo credit: The Fukuoka City Museum 福岡市博物館)

Online Source

It is currently on display at The Fukuoka City Museum 福岡市博物館.

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(Photo credit: The Fukuoka City Museum 福岡市博物館)

Related Resources

Why Am I Posting This?

This is one of several posts I plan to make about Japanese primary sources available on the Internet, a project I have had on the back burner for a few years now. At the moment, the coverage and selection of sources is related to anything that I happen to stumble across in the course of doing my own research. It is, therefore, neither comprehensive nor especially well-organized, but my hope is that other people will benefit from having this information compiled here: the people and institutions who expended the time and effort to upload the sources will see an increase in traffic; more people from outside the field of Japanese studies will have an opportunity to see fascinating original sources that would otherwise be unavailable to them due to language constraints or low search ranking by Google; and researchers might be able to make use of these materials in their work.