Cultural Exchange with the Ancient Korean Peninsula

By Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds

The artifacts excavated from the Saitama Kofun Cluster tell the story of the ancient Japanese archipelago's close relationship with China and the Korean peninsula. A decorated mirror made in China and metal belt decorations with dragon designs made in the Korean peninsula were both excavated from the Inariyama Kofun. The Shogunyama Kofun also revealed many artifacts with ties across the sea, including a horse helmet and metal flag holders that trace back to the Goguryeo Kingdom (Korean peninsula) as well as swords and eight-ridge bells from the southern region of the Korean peninsula.

Metal Belt Decorations with Fretwork and Dragon Designs (5th Century) by UnknownMuseum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds

Metal Belt Decorations with Dragon Designs

These metal decorations, excavated from the Inariyama Kofun, were affixed to belts made of leather or cloth. The panels are decorated with fretwork and arabesque and dragon patterns. It is thought that these decorations were influenced by the decorated belts of China's Jin Dynasty, but were created somewhere in the Korean peninsula.

Horse Helmet (6th Century) by UnknownMuseum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds

Horse Helmet

This horse helmet was excavated from the Shogunyama Kofun and was created by combining multiple iron plates held together by fasteners. Including the Shogunyama Kofun horse helmet, only three of these types of helmets have been found in Japan. They have also been excavated from burial mounds in areas that belonged to the ancient Silla kingdom and the Gaya confederacy on the Korean peninsula, but are thought to have originated from the Goguryeo kingdom (to the north of Silla and Gaya).

Metal Flag Holder (6th Century) by UnknownMuseum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds

Metal Flag Holder

These pieces of a metal flag holder, which was attached to the back of a horse's harness, were excavated from the Shogunyama Kofun. When these artifacts were originally discovered, researchers were unsure what their purpose was, but the later discovery of a horse-shaped haniwa in the 14th Sakamaki Kofun in Gyoda City (Saitama Prefecture, Japan) showed pieces like this being used as flag holders. This use of metal flag holders for horses is also depicted in the wall paintings of the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs (located in present-day North Korea; built during the Three Kingdoms period of Korean history, approximately the 1st-7th centuries C.E.).

Credits: Story

The Saitama Prefectural Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds

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