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Bronze Ritual Implements of the Yayoi Period

"Bronze Ritual Implements of the Yayoi Period"

Heiseikan Japanese Archaeology Gallery  September 7, 2021 (Tue) - February 27, 2022 (Sun)

Bronze Bell (Dōtaku)
Reportedly found in Kagawa Prefecture, Yayoi period, 2nd–1st century BC (National Treasure)

This section features ritual objects from the Yayoi period (ca. 5th century BC–ca. 3rd century AD), with a focus on bronze spears, swords, halberds, and bell-shaped dotaku. Early in this period, the first bronze and iron implements were brought to Kyushu in southwestern Japan from Korea. Among these were bronze weapons such as swords, spears, and halberds. Soon these objects were being created locally and they became larger and flatter, showing a shift to ritual use.

Most bell-shaped dotaku have been excavated from the Kinki region. Although they may have originated from similar bells made in China and Korea, they were created in larger sizes and with unique surface decorations. Initially, they were approximately 20 cm in height but their size increased over time as they changed into ornamental objects no longer used to produce sound. Experts believe that these ritual bells were used to pray for bountiful harvests and the prosperity of settlements.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 5 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
Highlight National Treasure Bronze Bell ("Dōtaku") Reportedly found in Kagawa Prefecture Yayoi period, 2nd–1st century BC J-37433
Highlight Bronze Spearhead Yayoi period, 1st-3rd century J-9142-1
Highlight Important Cultural Property Mold of Bronze Halberd Excavated at Ichiinoki, Kami Izumi, Kuboizumi-machi, Saga-shi, Saga Yayoi period, 2nd-1st century BC J-37005
Highlight Important Cultural Property Mirror with Multiple Knobs and a Minute Pattern Found in Gose City, Nara Yayoi period, 4th–1st century BC J-8667
Highlight Important Cultural Property "Dotaku" (Bell-shaped bronze) Excavated at Oiwayama, Koshinohara, Yasu-shi, Shiga Yayoi period, 1st-3rd century J-826