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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

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.

Keywords: representation, material embodiment, bodily experience, Jomon period, Japanese archipelago

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