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Possible Depiction of Female Shaman Unearthed in Japan

Monday, October 14, 2019

Japan Female ShamanNARA PREFECTURE, JAPAN—The Mainichi reports that a fragment of an earthenware vessel inscribed with a possible drawing of a woman shaman wearing a bird costume was uncovered in western Japan at Shimizukaze, a site dating to the middle of the Yayoi Period, around 100 B.C. Nineteen other earthen vessels inscribed with human figures with outstretched arms have been unearthed across Japan, but this is the first to appear to have breasts, which are depicted with circles on the figure’s chest. Her eyes, nose, mouth, and one arm with five fingers are also visible on the fragment, which measures about five inches by six and one-half inches. Kazuhiro Tatsumi of Doshisha University suggested a shaman dressed in a bird costume may have prayed for a rich grain harvest, since the spirits of grain were thought to have been carried by birds. A total of more than 450 inscribed vessels have been found at Shimizukaze and the large Yayoi-period settlement located nearby at Karako Kagi. For another recent discovery from Japan, go to "World Roundup: Japan."

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