Slippers , Gilt bronze


Slippers , Gilt bronze

Archaeology / Kofun / Kumamoto

出土地:熊本県和水町 江田船山古墳出土

Kofun period, 5th-6th century

全長32.3 幅10.1


National Treasure

These shoes come from the Eta Funayama Tumulus in Kumamoto prefecture. This keyhole-shaped burial mound is located near the middle reaches of Kikuchi river. It is thought to have been constructed in the latter half of the fifth century or early sixth century. A set of exquisite burial goods was excavated there in 1873. These included weapons and military gear like swords and armor, a gilt-bronze headdress and a pair of gilt-bronze shoes, gold earrings, jewels and other ornaments, six bronze mirrors, horse trappings, and Sue stoneware. This set has been designated a National Treasure.
These shoes are made of three thin bronze plates – one on the sole and one on each side. The surfaces of the side plates are riveted together. The bronze was topped with gold plating, part of which can still be seen today. The surface is decorated with interlocking hexagonals in a manner that resembles a turtle shell. Small, round adornments resembling fish scales were dangled from the holes scored in the corners of several hexagonals. Though difficult to discern, the soles are also covered with a hexagonal pattern and each has nine spike-like protuberances.
The shoes are 32 centimeters long. It must have been hard to walk in such large, hard shoes with so much jangling ornamentation. In fact, they were made for a deceased person, so they were designed to be placed over the feet of someone lying down. This explains the large size and the intricate design, right down to the soles. The shoes may have come from the Baekje kingdom on the Korean peninsula. They were perhaps a final gift to the powerful lord interred in the tumulus.(2018-08-01)

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