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The Rise of Provincial Clans and the Development of a Unique Culture

"The Rise of Provincial Clans and the Development of a Unique Culture"

Heiseikan Japanese Archaeology Gallery  November 30, 2021 (Tue) - June 5, 2022 (Sun)

Mirror with Five Bells, Excavated at Showa-mura, Tone-gun, Gunma, Kofun period, 5th-6th century

Local production of weapons, armor, and horse tack, which had originally been brought from Korea, began around the end of the 5th century. While gold and silver were often used in Korea, production in Japan was characterized by the extensive use of gilded bronze plates. From around the mid-6th century, unique metal objects such as large ornamental swords were also created. It is believed that these objects were distributed to provincial clans as proof of the Yamato Kingdom’s authority and as signs of an alliance.

The construction of burial mounds with entrances, which allowed family members who passed away at different times to be buried together, spread rapidly across much of Japan. Moreover, groups of smaller burial mounds increased in number, reflecting an expansion of the class with the means to construct such mounds. New burial rites were developed in which sue stoneware was used and haniwa tomb figurines portraying humans and animals were placed atop burial mounds.

Meanwhile, the Yamato Kingdom began to establish a closer relationship with the Baekje Kingdom of Korea, from which it received new culture and Buddhism. However, Japan lost its foothold in Korea when another ally, the Gaya Confederacy, was defeated by Silla in 562. These events may have influenced the development of metalwork objects into unique Japanese forms.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 3 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
Highlight Mirror with Five Bells Excavated at Showa-mura, Tone-gun, Gunma Kofun period, 5th-6th century J-13280
Highlight Saddle Fittings Excavated at Ashikaga Koenroku Tumulus, Ashikaga-shi, Tochigi Kofun period, 6th-7th century Gift of Mr. Ogawa Kozaburo, J-8201
Highlight Important Art Object Pommel with Silver Inlay From Hongo, Fujioka-shi, Gunma Kofun period, 6th century J-36747