Masaki Art Museum, located in Tadaoka, in the Senboku district of Osaka Prefecture, possesses a wide-ranging collection of tea utensils, Buddhist art works, and archaeological materials, with a particular focus on medieval painting and calligraphy. An exhibition of its works will be held for the 19th time on the 25th floor Atrium of Park Hotel Tokyo, in Tokyo Shiodome district. For this exhibition, from the collection of the Masaki Art Museum, we will present Japanese ancient ritual utensils and accessories.
Included within the ritual utensils used for worship and ceremonies are the various prayers of people, and you can find designs that go beyond the intended use. These accessories not only decorated people’s bodies, they also had a role in symbolizing power and status, acted as amulets and had magical implications. We hope that through this exhibition, you can feel the ancient molding, people’s creativity, as well as the prayers that are included within.
[Date] September 13 (Fri.) – December 12, 2019 (Thu.)
[Place] Atrium, Park Hotel Tokyo (25F)
[Fare] Free of Charge
[About the Masterpieces]
1 Kettle-shaped earthenware Late Jomon Period, 3rd Century BC
There are the different shapes and patterns of pottery from the Jomon period (2,300 – 13,000 years ago), which varied depending on the time. We can categorize them, by their distinct features, into 6 different periods; the beginning period, early period, early middle period, middle period, late period, and final period. During the ‘final period’ of the Jomon period, the patterns of the ornamented bowls became more delicate, and their functionality also increased. In this work, there is a spout on a flat, round body, and it is believed to have been made as a bowl for pouring liquids. Line and cloud patterns were carved in, and the surface was polished so that it would become smooth. The rim is decorated with a piece of clay and it is believed that it was likely used during rituals to hold things such as alcohol.
2 Boar, Haji-ki (unglazed earthen object) Nara Period, 8th Century
Animal-shaped Haji-ki excavated from Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture. Haji-ki is a type of pottery that was created from the Kofun period (3 – 7th Century). Haniwa figures, modeled on humans and animals, are also categorized as a type of Haji-ki.
Although this pottery is recorded as being a “boar”, it is shaped more like a horse. We can see a head facing the ground, an elongated neck, and a mane, which appear to be have been impressed into the clay. Though the chipped backside looks like a boar with a short tail, we believe the tail may have originally been shaped like a horse’s.
3 Sharinseki Excavated from the Maruyama Tumulus in Nara Kofun Period, 3 – 7th Century
This is an arm ornament which seems to be fashioned from green tuff.
A hole was made through the center of a flat, elliptically shaped stone, and 18 lines formed radially on the surface. This type of arm ornament originally simulated an accessory made by working straw hat-shaped shells, but since the radial lines resemble the spokes of a wheel, it was given the name “sharinseki (wheel stone)” in the Edo period (17 – 19th Century).
It is thought that this was not just an accessory to adorn the body, but was a treasured article symbolizing the authority of the dead.
4 Comma-shaped Beads Kofun Period, 3 – 7th Century
These are pieces of jewelry made in the shape of a letter C with a hole, and used as accessories by passing string through the hole. Comma-shaped beads were fashioned from around the Jomon period about 5,000 years ago, and their sizes, materials and shapes gradually became more diversified. From the Kofun period when the creation of comma-shaped beads reached its zenith, articles made of jasper, quartz and agate have been discovered. Examples in which several grooves are engraved radially from a hole in the head like these works, are classified as having a shape reminiscent of a clove.
5 Bronze Sword Yayoi Period, 4th Century BC – 3rd Century AD
Bronze weapons like this work, and mirrors and ritual bells, came to Japan around the Yayoi period. In the same period, iron which is superior to bronze and ironmaking technology also came to Japan. Iron was put to practical uses, whereas bronze objects were exclusively used as a ritual utensil in ceremonies, or as a symbol of power.
This work is also considered to be a ritual work used at festivals. Now, there are spinous protrusions on only one side of the blade, but it can be inferred that originally it had a symmetrical shape with protrusions on both sides.