Important Cultural PropertySpiral-shell shaped earthenware / Footprint-earthenware

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  • Excavated in Uenoyama, Murakami-city, Niigata Prefecture
  • 2pieces
  • Clay
  • Jyōmon period/2000-1000 BC
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • J-38390, J-38391

 Among the moldings of the Jomon period, there were unfired clay animals, such as wild boars and snakes. The three-dimensional earthenware of these unfired clay animals began to be produced from the late phase of the Middle Jomon period. Clam figures were the second most produced figures after wild boar figures. For snail clay figures like this one, more than one figure has been found across the Tohoku region in the Late Jomon period.
This specimen is a figure in the shape of a snail that lives in a rocky beach and serves as a vessel with a spout mouth (in the mouth of the snail). In addition to the nice outer shape of the snail, this specimen nicely incorporates the patterns of the lump-attached earthenware of the same period, such as the spiral pattern created by clay cords and a piercing pattern on pasted lumps. It fully demonstrates the molding capability of the Jomon people. Moreover, the red color painted over the inside and outside surfaces of the snail suggests that this served not only as an outstandingly creative container, but also as an object used in rituals.