[Spring Exhibition] Masaki Art Museum Masterpieces
The Masaki Art Museum in Tadaoka-cho, Senboku-gun, Osaka, holds a wide range of tea ceremony utensils, Buddhist artworks and archeological materials focusing on medieval ink paintings and calligraphy.
This exhibition is the 9th at the Atrium on the 25th floor of the Park Hotel Tokyo. For this exhibition, from the collection of the Masaki Art Museum, we will present artifacts centering on jewelry made in the 3rd ~ 6th centuries during the Kofun period. Besides their decorative purpose, they also had an important role to symbolize power. From the tombs of the Kofun period, many pieces of jewelry made in various shapes and materials have been excavated.
We invite you to take a look at ancient Japanese jewelry through these works.
[Date] March 10, 2017 (Fri.) ～ June 8, 2017 (Thu.)
[Place] Atrium, Park Hotel Tokyo (25F)
[Fare] Free of Charge [About the Masterpieces]
1 Bronze Mirror Kofun Period
This is a small mirror made by melting copper with tin, and casting it into a mold. In the center of the back of the mirror, there is a knob to pass a string called chu (the central boss). Today, it is covered thickly in rust, and no pattern design can be seen.
Bronze mirrors first came to Japan during the Yayoi era around the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, and circular bronze mirrors like this continued into the later Kofun period. It is said that at that time, they were used as amulets, ritual artifacts and symbols of power rather than having a practical use.
2 Suzukushiro Kofun Period
Various material were used for arm ornaments down through the ages, and the ones made of shells excavated from the shell mounds of Jomon period are known as older examples. In the Kofun period, things made of metal such as this work, and stone works like Work No. 3 “Sharinseki”, were made.
In the middle of the Kofun period, casting technology for making bells came to Japan from Asian continent around the 5th century, and it is said that metal bells began to appear from this time onwards. This work has a design wherein six bells are mounted on a chamfered bracelet, and since the ball inside the bell is not fixed, they still make a light sound.
3 Sharinseki Excavated from the Maruyama Tumulus in Nara Kofun Period
This is an arm ornament which seems to be fashioned from green tuff.
A hole was made through the center of a flat, elliptically shaped stone, and 18 lines formed radially on the surface. This type of arm ornament originally simulated an accessory made by working straw hat-shaped shells, but since the radial lines resemble the spokes of a wheel, it was given the name “sharinseki (wheel stone)” in the Edo period.
It is thought that this was not just an accessory to adorn the body, but was a treasured article symbolizing the authority of the dead.
4 Comma-shaped Beads Kofun Period
These are pieces of jewelry made in the shape of a letter C with a hole, and used as accessories by passing string through the hole. The pieces were fashioned from around the Jomon period about 7000 years ago, and their sizes, materials and shapes gradually became more diversified. From the Kofun period when the creation of comma-shaped beads reached its zenith, articles made of jasper, quartz and agate have been discovered. Examples in which several grooves are engraved radially from a hole in the head like these works, are classified as having a shape reminiscent of a clove.
5 Bronze Sword Yayoi Period
Bronze weapons like this work, and mirrors and ritual bells, came to Japan around the Yayoi era. In the same period, iron which is superior to bronze and ironmaking technology also came to Japan. Iron was put to practical uses, whereas bronze objects were exclusively used as a ritual utensil in ceremonies, or as a symbol of power.
This work is also considered to be a ritual work used at festivals. Now, there are spinous protrusions on only one side of the blade, but it can be inferred that originally it had a symmetrical shape with protrusions on both sides.