Prehistory and protohistory

Since the early centuries of the Middle Ages, various types of archaeological finds were unearthed in the subsoil of Japan’s feudal lands, such as lithic artefacts from prehistory and protohistoric bronzes. The interpretation of these findings was entrusted to local scholars, who used ancient chronicles of the eighth century and the beliefs, legends, reports and mythological ideas contained within them as sources.
Until the end of the 19th century, the archaeological remains remained mysterious objects, the origin of which was not precisely known. Since they came from feudal soil, these objects were considered treasures of the fief (kokuhō) and became part of the collections of feudal lords and samurai who administered and controlled the territory. But the modernization of the Meiji period (1868-1912) and the concomitant presence in Japan of western scholars and scientists favoured the discovery and enhancement of the country's ancient cultural identity.
The important archaeological objects of the Yayoi and Kofun periods collected by Edoardo Chiossone, (display case 1), reflect the circumstances of that time: some of them certainly come from feudal treasuries, others from excavations carried out in the, then, contemporary period. For example, the Yayoi ritual bronze spearhead is a pre-Meiji find from Kurume (Fukuoka) documented in a report of 1856, while the ritual bronze bell with drawings of water spirals, whose site of origin is unknown, belongs to a rare typology of the Yamato region of which only two other specimens are known, both preserved in Japan.
Some pieces from princely funerary items from the Kofun period, such as the equestrian harness in the shape of a ring with three bells (rattles), the fifteen comma-shaped jewels (magatama) and the necklace of tubular jewels, show an evident affinity with objects found in Eta in 1873 Funayama, in the famous burial mound of Waka Takeru, of the Emperor Yūryaku (5th-6th centuries AD).

 

Oriental Art Museum "E. Chiossone"

Ritual Bell (dōtaku)

Ritual Bell (dōtaku)

Oriental Art Museum "E. Chiossone"

Ritual Bell (dōtaku)

Ritual Bell (dōtaku)