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8FIESTAINTRODUCTION February, the planting ofmaize on 30 April, the climax ofthe rainy season and the growth ofmaize plants on 13 August, and the harvest on 30 October. The Mesoamerican world view was based on the need to control opposing forces: the gods, neither purely good nor purely evil, often had dual aspects. Human sacrifice ensured the daily appearance ofthe sun and the renewal offertility. According to Johanna Broda, who has analysed Aztec ritual,' humans tried to control ritually the balance ofthe forces ofnature and to propitiate them for their own benefit'. She also notes that,' in the manner ofa fugue, a web ofceremonies was created which spanned the whole year and led from one celebration to the next'. Spain's epic conquest ofthe Aztec empire was completed in 1521. This was followed by the overthrow ofthe Tarascan empire ofwestern Mexico, the oppression ofthe peoples ofOaxaca, and the eventual subjugation ofthe Maya populations ofthe Yucat√°n Peninsula and Guatemala. The arrival in 1535 ofthe first viceroy marked the start ofthe colonial period in New Spain, as Mexico became officially known. Under the system ofencomienda, Spanish colonists were granted a right to the labour and tribute ofindigenous populations. The harsh conditions ofSpanish- run mines and plantations, combined with epidemics of introduced European diseases such as measles, led to numerous deaths. Demographic estimates are much debated, but many experts now accept that 80 per cent 8 Director's foreword Making figures out of clay is an almost universal human activity - so much so that in many creation myths, it is the metaphor for how God made mankind. But within that worldwide pattern, the clay dogufigures from the Jomon period in Japan enjoy a special status; for the Jomon ceramic tradition, dating back well over 10,000 years, is possibly the oldest in the world. Although the British Museum can make a fair attempt at telling the ceramic history of the world, and indeed displays Jomon ceramics regularly in its Japanese Galleries, its own holdings can only hint at the range and the quality of those early Japanese potters, and what they contributed to the global story. So we are particularly delighted that thanks to the thoughtful generosity of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan, we are now able to present for the first time to the London public the finest examples of dogufrom Japan, and through them the achievements of a major early chapter in world civilization. We are glad to collaborate, as in the past, with the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan and its academic specialists, also with colleagues from the Tokyo National Museum, to create this exhibition together. Regional museums from throughout Japan have been unstintingly generous in their loan of the most precious pieces. This has enabled us to tell, perhaps for the first time, a near-complete story of the development of these enigmatic clay figures. The Museum's Japanese Section in the Department of Asia has again worked closely with the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, through Dr Simon Kaner who has been academic coordinator for the project and catalogue editor. The Mitsubishi Corporation, which in 2006 generously funded the refurbishment of the Museum's Japanese Galleries, is the valued sponsor of the exhibition. Academic research has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of the United Kingdom. The Japan Foundation has also offered support. Visitors to this exhibition will surely savour the unique opportunity to marvel at the beauty of doguand to ponder their mysteries in the special setting of the British Museum. Neil MacGregor Director, The British Museum

7 Lenders Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan Akita Prefectural Museum Anthropological Museum, Nanzan University Aomori Prefectural Board of Education Atsugi City Board of Education Chino City Board of Education Chitose City Board of Education Department of Archaeology, Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University Ebetsu City Museum of Local History Fujimi Municipal Idojiri Archaeological Museum Fukaura Town Board of Education Fukushima City Board of Education Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education Hachinohe City Hakodate City Board of Education Hirakawa City Board of Education Hirosaki City Museum Ichinohe Town Board of Education Ikeda Takao Iwate Prefecture Japan Folk Crafts Museum Kahoku City Board of Education Kita Akita City Board of Education Komiya Misao Meiji University Museum Minami Alps City Board of Education Minami Minowa Village Board of Education Museum of the Sakitama Ancient Burial Mounds, Saitama Prefecture Nakano City Board of Education Narita City Board of Education Narita Keiko National Museum of Japanese History Nirasaki City Board of Education Noheji Town Board of Education odate City Board of Education Okaya City Board of Education Okonogi Yukie Osaka Museum of History Saitama City Board of Education Sakai Archaeological Museum Sasaki Shigeru Sendai City Board of Education Sendai City Museum ShakadoMuseum of Jomon Culture Shibukawa City Board of Education Tatsuuma Archaeological Museum Tokyo Metropolitan Archaeological Research Center Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education Tokyo National Museum University Museum, the University of Tokyo Yamagata Prefectural Board of Education Yamazaki Bunji Yamazaki Ikuo