16 Although this was a relatively stable time it was far from static: there was a lot of creative energy as demonstrated by the wide variety of doguthat developed over the period and the many styles that evolved in different regions. The visual timeline on pp. 18- 19 shows the range of doguand their evolution. Archaeologists and art historians have deployed a formidable battery of techniques in attempting to understand dogu. Thousands of pages have been expended on ideas about how they represent mother goddesses or earth mothers and other spirits and deities, and many more on refuting such notions. 2 As in the past, figurines still hold the power to help define people's identities and views of the world. In the first chapter, I trace the unearthing of dogufrom the early seventeenth century to the present and how we have developed frameworks to help understand them. We consider how to interpret and look at dogu, and explore themes, such as the significance of childbirth, masks, buried doguandJomon perceptions of the natural world. In chapter two, Doi Takashi looks at the origins of doguand traces the representation of the body in the Jomon archipelago, while in chapter three Harada Masayuki focuses on the rituals and spiritual aspects of dogu. This was a time when spirits were felt to be everywhere in an all- encompassing nature. Some archaeologists have turned to ethnographic records to illuminate the unfamiliar aspects of dogu, while others seek to understand them only through detailed examination of the house, burial or midden sites where they were found. These approaches, however, have had only limited success in Japan, where the majority of the 18,000 or so dogureported to date were found in no clear context. More recently, these ceramic figures have been approached in terms of how they are seen. Douglass Bailey has previously suggested that the appearance of ceramic figures represents a ' new way of seeing'; this is not just a scientific perspective, where figurines represent a ' truth' ( as a photograph was once thought to), but rather figurines that distort and create uncertainties that challenge. Bailey develops this theme in chapter four. 3 Although antiquarians and archaeologists had uncovered prehistoric materials, including dogu, from the seventeenth century onwards, it was not until the twentieth century, in particular the post- war period, that doguwere re- discovered and entered the wider arena, inspiring artists and the general public alike. The final essay in the book, by Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, focuses on the lively significance of doguin popular culture today. Jomon doguexemplify one of the major creative traditions of the prehistoric world, and as such occupy an important place in the history of art. Modern viewers can appreciate these remarkable objects as works of art, and admire them for their aesthetics, design and technical skill, all achieved prior to the advent of agriculture, metallurgy or writing. Doguare not just good to look at; they invite questions about how Jomon people experienced the world, how they coped with the stresses and strains of their existence, and how they perceived their place in the cosmos. Dogu have the power to make us think. Detail of a figure from Arakoji, Fukushima prefecture ( cat. 61).