"Haniwa" (Terracotta tomb figure), Warrior in Armor


"Haniwa" (Terracotta tomb figure), Warrior in Armor

Archaeology / Kofun / Gunma

Place excavated:From Kamishiba Tumulus, Misato-machi, Takasaki-shi, Gunma

Kofun period, 6th century




Haniwa are terracotta ornaments that were placed on or around burial mounds known as kofun. In the first half of the Kofun period, most haniwa took the form of jars, houses, shields, swords or other objects. They subsequently grew more diverse, with later haniwa assuming the shape of animals or people, for example.
The production process involved coiling clay cords into a cylindrical and refining the shape with a wooden board. If you look closely, you can find marks left behind by the grain of the wooden board.
This haniwa of an armor-clad warrior was excavated at the Kamishiba Tumulus in Gunma Prefecture. The warrior's hair is tied up in bundles above the ears. He also wears a beaked helmet, a traditional style on the Japanese archipelago. He was probably placed in the tomb to guard over the peaceful repose of its occupant. Though the shape is quite rudimentary, it still manages to skillfully depict the warrior's pose. Notice how he stands with shoulders square and elbow extended, for example, with his right hand on the sword's handle ready to draw.
Kamishiba is a scallop-shaped tumulus around 18 meters in length, which was excavated for research purposes in 1929. It was discovered under layers of ash from Mount Haruna, a volcano that erupted around the middle of the 6th century. Haniwa figurines excavated from this tumulus include warriors, men, a woman holding a cup, and a horse.

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