The 'Ritualization' of Comma-Shaped Magatama Beads from the Jōmon to Yayoi Periods in Japan

Author(s): Yoko Nishimura

Year: 2016


Comma-shaped magatama beads in their 'archaic' forms and materials first appeared in the Early Jōmon period (ca. 5000 BC) in Japan, and in their 'standardized' form and material became a major component of grave goods for the elite burials that began to be constructed from the Yayoi period (ca. 400 BC) onward. The contexts in which magatama beads recently excavated at Early/Middle Jōmon sites have been found indicate that they were most likely ordinary body ornaments for everyday use. Their later essential role as grave goods in the elite burials after the Yayoi period was likely the result of a 'ritualized' process in which greater significance was attached to these beads through transformation from ordinary to more formalized contexts. Bridging these two phases, magatama beads in the Late/Final Jōmon period (ca. 2500-400 BC) may reflect the transitional process in which they were increasingly used in more formalized contexts, including domestic rituals, and their forms and materials progressively standardized.

Cite this Record

The 'Ritualization' of Comma-Shaped Magatama Beads from the Jōmon to Yayoi Periods in Japan. Yoko Nishimura. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404461)

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Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;