Clay Tablet with Child Foot Impression


Clay Tablet with Child Foot Impression

Archaeology / Jomon / Niigata

Place excavated:From Uenoyama, Murakami-shi, Niigata

Jomon period, 2000-1000 BC


長12.7 幅6.9


Important Cultural Property

This object speaks volumes about the loving relations between parents and children during the Jomon period. Earthenware objects with handprints and footprints dating from the early to final Jomon periods have been excavated from Hokkaido down to the Tohoku region. They were made by pressing the feet or hands of a baby or small child against a thin clay board. This is the right footprint of a child aged two or three. We can even make out the impressions left by the little toes. There is also the indentation of something woven on the other side. Other plates feature the imprints of adult fingers on the underside. These conjure up images of parents holding their children and pressing their hands and feet against the plates.
Child mortality rates were much higher in the Jomon period owing to unsanitary conditions and food shortages. These plates were perhaps made to pray for a child's safe development. However, the plates are commonly found among the burial goods excavated from the graves of adults, so they may have been buried as keepsakes of a deceased child or as mementos of a child when the parent died first. These earthenware objects powerfully convey the bonds of love between Jomon parents and children.

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