Japanese / Female Figure / Final Jomon period (1000-300 BCE)Japanese
Female Figure
Final Jomon period (1000-300 BCE)

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Name-CRT: Japanese
Title: Female Figure
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -100
Creation End Date: -30
Creation Date: Final Jomon period (1000-300 BCE)
Creation Place: Japan, Aomori Prefecture
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Earthenware with traces of pigment (Kamegaoka type)
Dimensions: H. 9 7/8 in. (25.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.198
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: Some of the most imaginative and intriguing ceramic figures in the world are products of Japan's earliest cultures. The use of earthenware in Japan began during the Jomon period (c. 10,500-300 BCE). This period in Japanese history is further subdivided into Incipient, Initial, Early, Middle, Late, and Final phases. Jomon is translated as "cord-impressed"; the method most commonly used to decorate ceramics throughout the period was to press and roll twisted cords and cord-wrapped sticks into the wet clay, and the name of the period is derived from its ubiquity. The hatched markings on the surface of this figure of a standing woman were made using a cord or rope. Such figurines are one of the two most common types of images produced during the Final Jomon period (c. 1000-300 BCE). They are classified as the Kamegaoka type after a site in northern Japan where hundreds of such figures were discovered in 1620.

Sculptures of this type are sometimes called figurines with sun- or snow-goggles (shakoki dogu) because their large eyes often resemble goggles, particularly those worn by Eskimos for coping with blinding sun and snow. The coils of clay piled at the top of the figure's head may have been intended to represent an elaborate headdress or a crown. Figures of this type are often said to represent women because the majority of them have visible breasts; they have often been associated with fertility, largely because of the importance awarded to female fertility figures in other Stone Age cultures across the world. However, more recent scholarship has linked these figures to the practice of sympathetic magic in which certain parts of the figure (in this case, the right leg and part of the skirt) were deliberately damaged, presumably in order to help heal injuries in that body part. This newer interpretation is based on the facts that the majority of these figures are damaged and that they were often grouped together at a specific site. The traces of red pigment seen in the crown and hair may also have had an amuletic function. It is possible that red was believed to be a protective color during the Final Jomon period and that its use further endowed the sculpture with magical properties.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 89.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 65, 99.
Related Document Description: Meech-Pekarik, Julia. 'Notable Japanese Ceramics.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 430-31.
Related Document Description: Mowry, Robert D. 'Object of the Month: Haniwa Figure.' Orientations (August 1985), pp. 45-48.
Related Document Description: Pekarik, Andrew. Japanese Ceramics from Prehistoric Times to the Present. Southampton, N.Y.: Parrish Art Museum, 1978, pp. 14, 15, 94.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Letter from the U.S.A.: The Second Seventy.' Apollo (February 1975), p. 137.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.198
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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