<p>abstract:</p><p>Curved or comma-shaped stone beads known as <i>magatama</i> (å¾ç/æ²ç) are often considered to have been used as amulets, talismans, or ritual items in ancient Japan. They are connected with beliefs in the magical power of various symbolically represented animals and the celestial world, the moon, or the soul and spirit. Throughout the JÅmon period, <i>magatama</i> were embedded within common household objects and tools as well as ritual items and they were used, lost, or discarded within houses. The specific functions and meanings of the <i>magatama</i> found in JÅmon houses are not clear, but these beads were consistently present for thousands of years in everyday settings where daily household activities were carried out. In Late JÅmon, however, some <i>magatama</i> beads were included in grave goods in northern Japan (TÅhoku and HokkaidÅ). This transformation in their role occasionally spread to central parts of the main island of Japan, such as Hokuriku and KantÅ. Other bead types made of talc or jadeite had already been buried in tombs since Early JÅmon, but it was not until Late JÅmon that <i>magatama</i> became regularly buried in tombs, apparently being worn by or given to the deceased at the time of entombment. The dramatic increase in the production of these small curved stone beads and their deployment in clusters of grave pits in cemeteries suggest that this was a personalization process leading to more individualized ownership of the <i>magatama</i>. After Late JÅmon, much smaller and more varied <i>magatama</i> shapes began to occur in graves along with other personal items such as combs, pendants, and earrings. The increased production and individual ownership of these body ornaments suggest that the JÅmon people enjoyed relative material comfort in northern Japan.</p>
Asian Perspectives – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: May 10, 2018
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