During the Kofun period, huge burial mounds were constructed for powerful clan leaders. Clay cylinders and figures, known as haniwa, were placed around the periphery of the mound to signify the sanctity of the area. This female figure wears a necklace of magatama, claw- or fang-shaped jewels of special talismanic power. There are also traces of red pigment on her cheeks, indicating tattoos or ceremonial face-paint. Judging from other examples (see illustration), she would have worn a wide, flat hairdo which extended over her forehead. She also once held a cup with her broken right arm - another indication that she was responsible for formulating medicinal or magical potions. It is likely, therefore, that she represents a shaman, a respected position in early Japanese society.


  • Title: Haniwa Figure
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 6th century
  • origin: Japan
  • Physical Dimensions: w9.75 x h22.375 x d8.5 in
  • Measurements: 22 3/8 x 9 3/4 x 8 1/2 in. (56.83 x 24.77 x 21.59 cm)
  • Type: Ceramic
  • Rights: The Christina N. and Swan J. Turnblad Memorial Fund, http://www.artsmia.org/index.php?section_id=7
  • External Link: Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN, USA)
  • Medium: Earthenware

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