Best books online Library

Your last book:

You dont read books at this site.

Total books on site: 11 280

You can read and download its for free!

Browse books by author: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Yamato armour
affords little assistance to the archaeologist: it bears no
particularly close resemblance to any type familiar elsewhere. There
was a corset made of sheet iron, well rivetted. It fastened in front
and was much higher behind than before, additioned protection for the
back being provided by a lattice-guard which depended from the helmet
and was made by fastening strips of sheet iron to leather or cloth.
The helmet was usually of rivetted iron, but occasionally of bronze,
with or without a peak in front. There were also guards of copper or
iron for the legs, and there were shoulder-curtains constructed in
the same manner as the back-curtain pendant from the helmet. Shoes of
copper complete the panoply.

The workmanship of these weapons and armour is excellent: it shows an
advanced stage of manufacturing skill. This characteristic is even
more remarkable in the case of horse-trappings. The saddle and
stirrups, the bridle and bit, are practically the same as those that
were used in modern times, even a protective toe-piece for the
stirrup being present. A close resemblance is observable between the
ring stirrups of old Japan and those of mediaeval Europe, and a much
closer affinity is shown by the bits, which had cheek-pieces and were
usually jointed in the centre precisely like a variety common in
Europe; metal pendants, garnished with silver and gold and carrying
globular jingle-bells in their embossed edges, served for horse
decoration. These facts are learned, not from independent relics
alone, but also from terracotta steeds found in the tumuli and
moulded so as to show all their trappings.

Other kinds of expert iron-work have also survived; as chains, rings
and, buckles, which differ little from corresponding objects in
Europe at the present day; and the same is true of nails, handles,
hinges, and other fittings. Tools used in working metal are rarely
found, a fact easily accounted for when we remember that such objects
would naturally be excluded from sepulchres.

There is another important relic which shows that the Yamato were
"indebted to China for the best specimens of their decorative art."
This is a round bronze mirror, of which much is heard in early
Japanese annals from the time of Izanagi downwards. In China the art
of working in bronze was known and practised during twenty centuries
prior to the Christian era; but although Japan seems to have
possessed the knowledge at the outset of the dolmen epoch, (circ. 600
B.C.), she had no copper mine of her own until thirteen centuries
later, and was obliged to rely on Korea for occasional supplies. This
must have injuriously affected her progress in the art of bronze
casting.

Nevertheless, in almost all the dolmens and later tombs mirrors of
bronze were placed. This custom came into vogue in China at an early
date, the mirror being regarded as an amulet against decay or a
symbol of virtue. That Japan borrowed the idea from her neighbour can
scarcely be doubted. She certainly procured many Chinese mirrors,
which are easily distinguished by finely executed and beautiful
decorative designs in low relief on their backs; whereas her own
mirrors--occasionally of iron--did not show equal skill of technique
or ornamentation. Comparative roughness distinguished them, and they
had often a garniture of jingle-bells (suzu) cast around the rim, a
feature not found in Chinese mirrors. They were, in fact, an inferior
copy of a Chinese prototype, the kinship of the two being further
attested by the common use of the dragon as a decorative motive.
Bronze vases and bowls, simple or covered, are occasionally found in
the Yamato sepulchres. Sometimes they are gilt, and in no case do
their shapes differentiate them from Chinese or modern Japanese
models.

It might be supposed that in the field of personal ornament some
special features peculiar to the Yamato civilization should present
themselves. There is none. Bronze or copper bracelets,* closed or
open and generally gilt, recall the Chinese bangle precisely, except
when they are cast with a garniture of suzu. In fact, the suzu
(jingle-bell) seems to be one of the few objects purely of Yamato
origin. It was usually globular, having its surface divided into
eight parts, and it served not only as part of a bangle and as a
pendant for horse-trappings but also as a post-bell (ekirei), which,
when carried by nobles and officials, indicated their right to
requisition horses for travelling purposes.

*Jasper also was employed for making bracelets, and there is some
evidence that shells were similarly used.

To another object interest attaches because of its wide use in
western Asia and among the Celtic peoples of Europe. This is the
penannular (or open) ring. In Europe, it was usually of solid gold or
silver, but in Japan, where these metals were very scarce in early
days, copper, plated with beaten gold or silver, was the material
generally employed. Sometimes these rings were hollow and sometimes,
but very rarely, flattened. The smaller ones seem to have served as
earrings, worn either plain or with pendants.

Prominent among personal ornaments were magatama (curved jewels) and
kudatama (cylindrical jewels). It is generally supposed that the
magatama represented a tiger's claw, which is known to have been
regarded by the Koreans as an amulet. But the ornament may also have
taken its comma-like shape from the Yo and the Yin, the positive and
the negative principles which by Chinese cosmographists were
accounted the great primordial factors, and which occupy a prominent
place in Japanese decorative art as the tomoye.* The cylindrical
jewels evidently owed their shape to facility for stringing into
necklaces or chaplets. The Chronicles and the Records alike show that
these jewels, especially the magatama, acted an important part in
some remarkable scenes in the mythological age.** Moreover, a sword,
a mirror, and a magatama, may be called the regalia of Japan. But
these jewels afford little aid in identifying the Yamato. Some of
them--those of jade, chrysoprase, and nephrite***--must have been
imported, these minerals never having been found in Japan. But the
latter fact, though it may be held to confirm the continental origin
of the Yamato, gives no indication as to the part of Asia whence they
emigrated.

*Professor Takashima has found magatama among the relics of the
primitive culture, but that is probably the result of imitation.

**The goddess of the Sun, when awaiting the encounter with Susanoo,
twisted a complete string, eight feet long, with five hundred
magatama. Lesser Kami were created by manipulating the jewels. When
Amaterasu retired into a cave, magatama were hung from the branches
of a sakaki tree to assist in enticing her out. Several other
reverential allusions are made to the jewels in later times.

***The jewels were of jasper, agate, chalcedony, serpentine,
nephrite, steatite, quartz, crystal, glass, jade (white and green),
and chrysoprase. Mention is also made of rakan, but the meaning of
the term is obscure. Probably it was a variety of jade.

YAMATO POTTERY

The pottery found in the Yamato tombs is somewhat more instructive
than the personal ornaments. It seems to have been specially
manufactured, or at any rate selected, for purposes of sepulture, and
it evidently retained its shape and character from very remote if not
from prehistoric times. Known in Japan as iwaibe (sacred utensils),
it resembles the pottery of Korea so closely that identity has been
affirmed by some archaeologists and imitation by others. It has
comparatively fine paste--taking the primitive pottery as
standard--is hard, uniformly baked, has a metallic ring, varies in
colour from dark brown to light gray, is always turned on the wheel,
has only accidental glaze, and is decorated in a simple, restrained
manner with conventionalized designs. The shapes of the various
vessels present no marked deviation from Chinese or Korean models,
except that, the tazzas and occasionally other utensils are sometimes
pierced in triangular, quadrilateral, and circular patterns, to which
various meanings more or less fanciful have been assigned.

There is, however, one curious form of iwaibe which does not appear
to have any counterpart in China or Korea. It is a large jar, or
tazza, having several small jars moulded around its shoulder,* these
small jars being sometimes interspersed with, and sometimes wholly
replaced by, figures of animals.** It is necessary to go to the
Etruscan "black ware" to find a parallel to this most inartistic kind
of ornamentation.

*This style of ornamentation was called komochi (child-bearing), the
small jars being regarded as children of the large.

**Mr. Wakabayashi, a Japanese archaeologist, has enumerated seven
varieties of figures thus formed on vases: horses, deer, wild boars,
dogs, birds, tortoises; and human beings.

With regard to the general decorative methods of the iwaibe potters,
it is noticeable, first, that apparent impressions of textiles are
found (they are seldom actual imprints, being usually imitations of
such), and, secondly, that simple line decoration replaces the rude
pictorial representations of a primitive culture and suggests
propagation from a centre of more ancient and stable civilization
than that of the Yamato hordes: from China, perhaps from Korea--who
knows? As for the terracotta figures of human beings and sometimes of
animals found in connexion with Yamato sepulchres, they convey little
information about the racial problem.* The idea of substituting such
figures for the human beings originally obliged to follow the dead to
the grave seems to have come from China, and thus constitutes another
evidence of intercourse, at least, between the two countries from
very ancient times.

*Chinese archaic wine-pots of bronze sometimes have on the lid
figures of human beings and animals, but these served a useful
purpose.

It has been remarked that "the faces seen on these images by no means
present a typical Mongolian type; on the contrary, they might easily
pass for European faces, and they prompt the query whether the Yamato
were not allied to the Caucasian race." Further, "the national
vestiges of the Yamato convey an impression of kinship to the
civilization which we are accustomed to regard as our own, for their
intimate familiarity with the uses of swords, armour, horse-gear, and
so forth brings us into sympathetic relation to their civilization."
[Munro.]

SUMMARY

It will be seen from the above that archaeology, while it discloses
to us the manners and customs of the ancient inhabitants of Japan,
does not afford material for clearly differentiating more than three
cultures: namely, the neolithic culture of the Yemishi; the iron
culture of the Yamato, and the intermediate bronze culture of a race
not yet identified.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | Next |