Encountering dogu29 The National Museum of Japanese History supported the creation of a nationwide computer database, a project that generated symposia in most prefectures where doguhad been found, with the subsequent publication in 1997- 2000 of four authoritative volumes entitled Basics of Research on Ceramic Figures. 9 Although this project, a response to the massive increase in available data, inevitably concentrated on quantification and description, it provided the foundation for the new interpretive approaches that are now beginning to emerge. By focusing on the fundamental questions first posed by Meiji- period pioneers including Tsuboi Shogoro, it has stimulated an active engagement with contemporary theories and methods, energizing archaeology and art history around the world. Looking at dogu One of the striking characteristics of doguis the various ways in which the body and its accoutrements are presented ( fig. 8). Some seem to express nothing more than a pared down, abstracted ' idea' of the body. Others reflect apparently realistic perceptions of it. Different examples again emphasize particular aspects of the body - certain features and limbs, specific details of clothing or ornamentation. One thing is certain: these doguwere for the most part carefully designed, and they repay careful scrutiny on the part of the viewer. Interpreting this variety, and understanding why certain attributes are emphasized, missing or abstracted, enables us to think of dogu- and the Jomon people - in new ways. It is likely that each of these aspects carries symbolic meanings relating to Jomon understandings of the body, both social and cultural. The degree of elaboration of hairstyles, clothing, tattooing and other ornamentation on doguincreases dramatically from the Middle Jomon onwards, and these features have attracted attention since the first Meiji- period accounts. The oldest representations of the body from the archipelago - the small flat greenstone pebbles from Kamikuroiwa and the stone figure resembling a Kokeshi doll from Iwato in Kyushu - have engraved lines suggesting long flowing hair ( fig. 6). Esaka points out that, prior to the advent of metal blades and scissors, managing hair was a precarious business, with the sharp blades of obsidian tools probably put to good use. 10Hairpins and combs were used from early on to keep hair in place: pins, thought to have been used for this purpose, have been discovered at Kamikuroiwa and many other sites across Japan, dating to the end of the Initial Jomon. These were often made from deer antlers, but there are also examples made of bird bones. 11Some were carefully decorated, such as a triangular- headed example, 5 cm long, from Hanawadai. Lacquered wooden hair combs appear in the Early Jomon deposits at Torihama in Fukui prefecture, and in large numbers in the Final Jomon at the waterlogged sites of north- eastern Honshu. 12 Jomon people seem to have styled their hair in a variety of ways, and by the Middle Jomon the dogumakers were paying close attention to this aspect of their creations. The Nagayama figures from Toyama prefecture, precursors to the standing dogu, have carefully plaited hair even if they are given no facial features. The figure known as the ' Jomon Venus', found at Tanabatake in Nagano prefecture, has particularly elaborate patterning on the top of its head, suggesting loosely coiled braids of hair ( see fig. 40, p. 55). Some of the designs used to indicate hair reflect the prevailing cord- marked patterns of the different pottery Fig. 7 Jomon doguexhibit a wide variety of hairdos and headgear ( clockwise from top left: cats 3, 2, 29, 1, 31 and 20). Fig. 8 ( Opposite) Jomon doguare very varied and much of their interest lies in the details of facial features, hairstyles and headgear, and facial and body decoration. Many of these features are somewhat abstract, giving many of the dogua transformed, and often strikingly contemporary, look. Fig. 6 Two of 13 small Incipient Jomon etched stones from Kamikuroiwa site, Ehime prefecture, the earliest representations of humans from the Japanese archipelago, thought to show long hair, breasts and grass skirts ( h: 2.3 cm).
Fig. 14 A ceramic vessel with animal- shaped handles ( cat. 50). Jomon potters were adept at creating forms that represented the spirit world of which they were a part. 32 Inspiration: human, animal and plant forms Most Jomon people probably had a very detailed knowledge of the animals and plants they encountered, hunted, reared and consumed. In the world they shared with the spirits, however, they surely had different ways of categorizing and naming them, and indeed of understanding the spirits' relationship with people and animals. Just as they used the human form as the model for the majority of dogu, so on occasion they turned to other forms of life for inspiration. Animal-shaped doguinclude wild boar, dogs, monkeys, bears, sea mammals, insects, shellfish and birds. Some were important food resources; others may have presented significant cues that the seasons were changing. As with the anthropomorphic dogu, many were relatively abstracted, making it difficult to be certain as to what species is being represented, if any. Such abstraction was probably quite intentional, blurring the boundaries between what modern viewers might consider reality and the fantastic, a boundary that Jomon dogumakers may have deliberately manipulated, or not even have recognized. Although much fewer in number than their anthropomorphic counterparts, doguin animal or plant form were made most notably in eastern Japan in the Late Jomon. And while most Jomon pots bore what seem to the modern viewer abstract patterns, Middle Jomon potters chose to use animal- inspired motifs, including wild boar and dogs. Their worlds would have been densely occupied by non- human entities, and it is likely that a variety of acts were per formed to propitiate such spirits so as to ensure good returns from fishing, gathering and hunting trips. 18Representations of hunting scenes may have played an important role in such rites. Elsewhere, notably in the central mountains of Honshu during the Middle Jomon, it is possible that there was an elaborate pantheon of spirits, including snakes, frogs and fish with specific symbolic meanings. 19In many small- scale societies around the world, specialists continue to have privileged access to the world of the spirits, communicating with them through a variety of shamanistic practices that often involve summoning animal spirit guides and taking on alternative personalities, transforming themselves into animals and so forth. 20 Such shamanic practices often involve inducing a trance- like state, perhaps through the use of mind- altering substances. Jomon shamans may have used such substances, for example the mushrooms ( fig. 15) that inspired so many ceramic copies across north- eastern Honshu in the Late Jomon, or alcoholic beverages that may have been brewed up in the perforated and flanged vessels ( cat. 43). These beliefs in transformation and the ability to cross the boundaries to the spirit world may materialize in the pottery vessels, from which strange human- like and animal- inspired forms seem to emerge. Perhaps the walls of the vessels presented, or were believed to form, one type of boundary with the spirit world, comparable to the way the walls of caves were used and adorned by prehistoric painters in other parts of the world. Jomon potters chose to represent only a small selection of the animals exploited by their communities. Interestingly, although deer formed a key element in the Jomon diet, they are rarely depicted by potters; whereas wild boar are presented in detail with great attention, as seen in the Tokoshinai example ( cat. 54). It has been suggested that, in some cases, young wild boar were reared within Jomon communities, and familiarity with them could explain the penchant for depicting the distinctive stripes of juveniles on boar- shaped dogu, Fig. 15 Jomon people had a detailed knowledge of the plants available to them and their properties. These ceramic mushrooms are perhaps modelled on those with mind- altering properties, which were probably used to help the Jomon achieve other states of consciousness as part of their ritual practices.