of a Man
Japan, Ibaraki Prefecture
Tumulus period, 6th-7th century
Earthenware with traces of pigment
H. 56 in. (142.2 cm); 1979.199
The use of earthenware began during the Jomon period, 10,500 to 300 B.C. "Jomon" is translated as cord impressed. A method that pressed and rolled thick rice rope and cord wrapped sticks onto the wet clay then smoothed. Cord designs were used to decorate the tunic worn by this haniwa figure of a man produced during the Kofun period. Kofun means "tumulus" or ancient mound and the period is named after the enormous tombs that were constructed for the ruling elite. These tombs were generally covered with large mounds of earth and were often in the shape of keyholes, surrounded by moats. "Haniwa" means circle of clay. The earliest examples were simple clay cylinders like the base of this figure. The concept of encircling the holy space forming the sacred void was the cornerstone of Japanese culture.
Vessels were placed at the top of the burial mound, along the edges like an underground fence, and at the entrance to the burial chamber. In prehistoric times the earliest places of worship were certain stones of trees or waterfalls. They were marked by lines of stones around them, or by ropes encircling them.
In the late fourth century cylindrical haniwa horses were created. By the fifth and sixth centuries sculptures like this man were found. They functioned as attendants to the deceased and as symbols of his status. This figure wears Jodhpur style pants under his long tunic. His beaded necklace and coronet were part of the formal civilian attire worn by high-ranking members of Kofun period society.
The comma shaped object
on the front of his tunic is speculated to be the hilt of a sword, or
a jade object called magatama. Possibly it follows a shape of a bear's
claw, which would be part of ceremonial decoration in prehistoric times.
Later magatama became one of three sacred insignia of emperors' status
along with the sword and the mirror.
India, probably Bihar
late 6th century
H. 27 in. (68.6 cm); 1979.8
The Ganges is stirred by the tramping of horses and elephants; disturbed by movements of fishes and turtles; but the river flows on. Buddha is like the great river.
Even in Buddha's raiment, the stylized flow of cloth resembles the great river. The perfection of the Buddha's physical appearance is revealed in transparency. One thousand years earlier, Greek sculptors carved statues of gods and goddesses as if windswept water fell in rippling effects down the lines of their muslin robes.
The Buddha stands in the abhanga position, in which one leg is slightly bent to give a feeling of potential movement. His right hand is held in the gesture of reassurance. In his left hand her grasps an unattached piece of cloth, that may have been the end of his shawl in earlier prototypes.
It is speculated
that the first Buddhas to appear in China were not dissimilar to the sixth-century
Bihar image. The body type is elongated with a narrow torso, thicker thighs,
a square shaped head, and a long elegant nose. The image has rigidity,
elevated in tranquility.