Important Cultural PropertyClay mask

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  • Excavated in Kamegaoka, Kizukuri, Tsugaru-city, Aomori Prefecture
  • 1 piece
  • H10.3 W11.3
  • Jyōmon period/1000-400 BC
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • J-36874

 Although a total of 140 masks of the Jomon period have been found so far, including around 120 clay masks, 10 shell masks and a few stone masks, they are very few in quantity compared to dogu (clay figures). Many clay masks of the Late and Final Jomon periods have been excavated in northern and eastern Japan and among the clay masks of the Final Jomon period, a group of clay masks with eyes similar to those of shakokidogu (snow goggle clay figures) have been found in the Tohoku region.
 This is one of those found in the Tohoku region. Although the considerably deformed eyes resemble those of snow goggle clay figures, the representation of the mouth is different. Moreover, patterns called "irikumimon" and "sansamon" are applied to the forehead and cheeks via the surikeshijomon technique. This group of clay masks is small in size (approximately 10 cm long) and since they are too small to cover faces, it is assumed that they were worn in rituals: people may have put them on their foreheads, held them in their hands, or hung them on their chests. Clay masks provide ample material for the study of the richness of rituals and the scope of spiritual culture of the Jomon period.