This chapter charts the trajectory of change of Jomon period clay anthropomorphic figurines in the Japanese archipelago. The earliest specimens embodied the perception of the body and female bodily experiences rather than accurately representing the body itself. Emphasis gradually shifted from the material embodiment of unmediated bodily perception and experiences to the visual representation of the body. Through this process, the subject of the representation expanded from the female body to the bodies of various categories of being, including animals and fantastic/supernatural beings, and the figurines came to embody the mutual transformability. These beings were networked to form an ‘animistic’ cosmology whose successful reproduction was metaphorically linked to that of human life and community. The decline of the symbolic role of the female reproductive faculty as the universal referent in the prayer for communal well-being led to the end of the Jomon clay anthropomorphic figurines.
This article discusses the Bronze Age in Mongolia, a period when pastoralism, mobility, and interaction between regional communities increased dramatically. It also corresponds to the heyday of monumental construction and to the development of societal complexity in this region. After briefly discussing the local Bronze Age chronology, the discussion then turns to the topic of the transition to animal husbandry and to the development of mobile, equestrian pastoralism in particular—a phenomenon that seems to have taken place during the Late Bronze Age. Following this, I examine the monumental landscape as well as what is known from “settlements” before discussing the nature of Late Bronze Age social organization and societal complexity. The article ends with a brief exposé on bronze metallurgy before highlighting what are thought to be the critical issues that continue to challenge research on the Bronze Age in the region.
Zooarchaeological and molecular biological studies indicate that all domestic animals found in Japan were introduced and local domestication of wild boar and wolf is unlikely. Timing of introduction and husbandry practice for dog, pig, horse, cattle, and chicken are discussed. These main domestic species were introduced from the Chinese continent in prehistoric times, probably via the Korean peninsula. Meat of domestic animals and dairy products were not a major part of the diet until the twentieth century ad, partly because of the Buddhist prohibition of the consumption of animal meat. Zooarchaeological data from the Yayoi and Kofun period sites as well as the historical era have been gradually accumulating, helping the interpretation of textual records as well as supplementing them.
This article reviews recent advances in the field of hunter-gatherer archaeology in Japan and Korea. It concentrates on issues that are key to understanding the importance of east Asian data in world hunter-gatherer archaeology and anthropology. Emphases are on issues that are relevant to recent discussion in the field of historical ecology, including long-term sustainability, collapses and subsequent recoveries of human socio-economic systems, human impacts on the biosphere, and the examination of processes operating on temporal scales of varying duration. The article first presents the chronological framework and regional/temporal variability of two post-Pleistocene hunter-gatherer cultures—Jomon and Chulmun. It then reviews new data on post-Pleistocene socio-economic transformations of these hunter-gatherers in relation to changing environmental conditions. Cases presented here indicate that overspecialization among hunter-gatherers can contribute to a rapid decline or a seeming ‘collapse’ in their socio-economic systems, followed by a shift to a new subsistence strategy among reduced populations.
In early China there was no widespread tradition of making figurines until about the mid-first millennium bc when human figurines started to be placed in burials to accompany the deceased into the afterlife. In prior millennia only pockets of China had seen the emergence of figurines, but these appeared to be short-lived phenomena clearly rooted and linked to local and regional cultures. The overall paucity of three-dimensional imagery and relative rarity of human representations both in two and three dimensions meant that China does not feature in surveys of early figurines. This chapter surveys and discusses selected appearance of figurines of the Neolithic and Bronze Age, with an emphasis on the Hongshan Culture in the northeast, the Yellow River and the Shijiahe Culture along the middle Yangtze.