Tomb Sculpture ([Haniwa]): Boat


Tomb Sculpture ([Haniwa]): Boat

Archaeology / Kofun / Miyazaki

Place excavated:Found at Saitobaru Burial Mounds, Miyazaki

Kofun period, 5th century


全長100.3 高38.7


Important Cultural Property

 This is a haniwa shaped like a boat. Haniwa are unglazed terracotta clay ornaments that adorned the kofun burial tumuli of powerful figures or kings. The sides of the boat's body have plank-like walls. These are fastened together horizontally by two pieces of lumber at the bow and two at the stern. The boat was not made by simply hollowing a block of wood. The upper section has a firm structure, so the boat looks equipped to deal with the gentle ripples of a harbor and the wild waves of the open seas.
 The boat has neither a mast to hoist a sail nor an engine, so it was propelled forward by rowers with oars. There are twelve protuberances around the edge, six on each side. These are the rowlocks where the oars would fit. Each rower would hold an oar by both hands and would row facing backward. That is why the rowlocks are inclined in the opposite direction to the forward-facing bow. The boat might not actually have required 12 rowers: perhaps the artisan wanted to create the impression of a boat impressive enough to require 12 rowlocks. The design seems quite simple, but it still provides a good glimpse at how boats were built back then. This boat-shaped haniwa paints a picture of oceanic exchange at the time. Perhaps it also symbolized how the soul of the tomb's occupant had embarked on a new journey.

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