Power and politics

Seals could be markers of social standing and were thus, for the elite, one way that their high position in society could be represented visually. The seals of the high nobility presented a view of men and women which crystallised ideas about their roles and function, status and prestige. Seals were a public visual statement of the place of the individual in social hierarchies.

Although some families were able to consolidate and maintain their social position across many generations, others waxed and waned in importance. This fluidity caused considerable anxiety in some quarters, and seals, given their connection to the holding of land and in relation to law and other forms of power, were an important field upon which these tensions were played out.