Tomb Sculpture ("Haniwa"): Dog


Tomb Sculpture ("Haniwa"): Dog

Archaeology / Kofun / Gunma

Place excavated:Found in Isesaki City, Gunma

Kofun period, 6th century


高47.1 長52.5 重量7.9kg


Haniwa are terracotta ornaments that were placed on or around the tombs of rulers during the Kofun period.

This cute canine is one of the most popular haniwa in our collection. It has a collar around its neck, with a round bell attached to the collar, so it must have been a domesticated animal.

Let's take a closer look at the dog's appearance. With its tail curled up stiffly, the hound seems on edge. It is breathing roughly with tongue thrust out and sharp teeth bared. This suggests the hound is depicted here in the act of barking at prey.

Dog-shaped haniwa have also been found with figurines of hunters or men blowing horns. This paints a picture of how people used to hunt at that time. First, someone would blow a horn to scare out prey. A dog would then give chase, with the prey finally dispatched by a hunter with bow and arrow.

Haniwa were usually made by coiling clay cords in a rounded fashion, so most haniwa are cylindrical, with human figurines made by attaching appendages to these cylindrical forms. With animal haniwa, though, the shape is a lot more complex. So how did the ancient folk make these complicated objects? Traces of the production process are often found inside haniwa. These include gradations formed during the cord coiling stage, for example, or marks where the clay has been smoothed by hand. The inside of this haniwa was examined using a CT scan. The scan revealed that the four cylindrical supporting legs were made first. The belly area was then formed by laying clay cords over the legs, with the back, neck and head added thereafter.

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