Chinese seals in Ireland

Putting online some of my older publications:

The story of the Chinese seals found in Ireland
(Imre Galambos)
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 18, 4 (2008), pp. 465-479.

In 1850, a paper was read before the Royal Historical Society of Ireland regarding a group of Chinese porcelain seals that had come to light during the previous eighty years in Ireland. In total there were about sixty seals which it was claimed had been discovered in various places throughout Ireland, ranging from Belfast all the way to Cork. In addition to their wide dispersion pattern, the seals were found in the strangest places – in an orchard, a cave, bogs, and so on. The discovery could not be easily explained at the time and when the inscriptions turned out to be written in the Chinese seal script, a number of fanciful hypotheses were advanced as to how these seals “of great antiquity” appeared in Ireland. According to these explanations, the seals were either brought over by the Phoenicians, or by ancient Irish tribes after their wanderings in China, or by mediaeval Irish monks travelling from the Middle East. All along, the emphasis was on the extent to which these artefacts corroborated Ireland’s ancient connection with the Orient, an idea that was believed and promoted at the time by both Irish nationalists and English imperialists. Both sides, albeit from a different standpoint and driven by different motives, saw the Irish as a distinctly non-European culture, whose ancestors must have originated from distant lands far beyond the perimeters of western civilisation…

Read the whole article here: Story of the Chinese seals found in Ireland

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