Friday, July 25, 2008

Dogu - Clay Figurine

Dogū (土偶) are clay artifacts dating back to the Jōmon Period of ancient Japan. The Jōmon period was from 14,000 BC to 400 BC. The clay figurines of this type though date from around 1000 BC to 300 BC. Most of the humanoid figurines have the breasts, small waists, and wide hips of females and are considered by many to be representative of goddesses. The hollow body is covered with elaborate, raised cord-impressed patterns and is what this period in history is known for, the term Jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. The average size of the figurines range from ten to twenty-five centimeters. There are quite a few theories on the purpose of these clay figurines.

Some theories are:
-talisman for good health or safe childbirth.
-similar purpose as hitogata (paper or straw effigies rubbed on the body to remove impurities then thrown into the sea or a nearby river to carry away sickness and bad luck) nowadays, some people think that after it was no longer needed for it's purpose they were broken and tossed in the trash since many were excavated in fragments.
-goddesses to whom Jomon people prayed to for food and health.
-toys for children
-funerary offerings
-objects used in some unknown ritual
-statues of aliens from outer space.

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