Important Cultural Property
Excavated in Tokochinai, Hirosaki-city, Aomori Prefecture
Jyōmon period/2000-1000 BC
Tokyo National Museum
J-368113D CG movie (YouTube)
While the earthenware of the Jomon period is generally decorated with abstract patterns, there are rare cases where faces or bodies are represented. The human-shaped decoration represented on the surface of earthenware like this one is called "hitogata (human shape)" decoration or "jintaimon (human body pattern)." The hitogata decoration is often found among the earthenware of the middle phase of the Middle Jomon period in the Kanto and Chubu regions and those of the late phase of the Late Jomon period in the area from Hokkaido to the Kanto region. In the latter case, the hitogata decoration is often applied to spout bottle-shaped or jar-type earthenware.
This jar is called hosokubi tsubo (literally a jar with a slender neck) and has a round body and a cylinder-shaped neck. While there is no pattern applied to the rim and neck area, a pair of hitogata decorations are applied on the upper part of the body and a straw-rope pattern is applied to the lower part of the body. The decoration shows techniques common to those used in other earthenware of the same period, such as the surikeshijomon technique and the pasting of lumps and clay cords.
The hitogata decoration on this jar features long, open arms and a straw-rope pattern is applied to the entire body except the face. While the representation of the eyebrows, nose, eyes and mouth via pasted clay cords is similar to the representation techniques used in dogu (clay figures) of the same period, there is no representation of breasts that dogu have. This jar-shaped earthenware with a hitogata decoration has two functions, one as a container and the other as a ritual tool like dogu and constitutes a valuable material for the study of the spiritual culture of the Jomon period.