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Important Cultural Property: Tomb Sculpture ("Haniwa"): Woman in Formal Attire

"Important Cultural Property: Tomb Sculpture ("Haniwa"): Woman in Formal Attire"

Heiseikan Japanese Archaeology Gallery  December 21, 2021 (Tue) - June 12, 2022 (Sun)

Tomb Sculpture (Haniwa): Woman in Formal Attire (detail), Found in Isesaki City, Gunma, Kofun period, 6th century (Important Cultural Property)

Terracotta statues known as haniwa were placed on large burial mounds that were created in great numbers during the Kofun period (ca. 3rd century–ca. 7th century). Most haniwa of women show them from the waist up, making this full-length depiction unusual. This woman appears to be wearing a sleeveless garment with wave-like patterns over a plain, long-sleeved one. Her legs are hidden by a skirt decorated with vertical lines. Women of the preceding Yayoi period (ca. 5th century BC–ca. 3rd century AD) wore clothes similar to one-piece dresses. In the Kofun period, however, garments separated into top and bottom sections as seen here were introduced from China and Korea.

Her outfit is also more elaborate than it first appears: Her hair is made up in a topknot unique to women of the time and is held in place with a comb. She also wears a headband and two large earrings with a cluster of beads above each one, as well as a beaded necklace and bracelets. A knife or something similar is at her hip. Judging from the lavish attire, this haniwa probably depicts a woman of a high social standing who is participating in some kind of elaborate ceremony such as a funerary procession or rite.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 1 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
Highlight Important Cultural Property Tomb Sculpture ("Haniwa"): Woman in Formal Attire Excavated at Yokozuka, Toyoshiro-cho, Isesaki-shi, Gunma Kofun period, 6th century J-20915