Unusual Pair of Haniwa Figures wrapped in Cord | 1950s

The two figures represented here show a wooden Haniwa female, and Haniwa warrior in heavy armor, (a testament to authority grounded in military prowess), and represented with the use of wrapped cord to imitate their traditional costume.Dimensions: Female figure- 9-1/2”h and the male figure- 10-1/4”h.

Historical Information —

Ningyou, or Japanese dolls, have a long history of more than 1000 years as a kind of figurine symbolic of Japanese culture. At that time, they played an important role in the lives of Japanese people. An excellent example is the clay Haniwa figures, which were found buried in a sixth century nobleman’s tombs. Later similar cylindrical wood forms wrapped in straw or cord were created and mainly used in religious ceremonies.

In the beginning of the fourth century, a group calling themselves the Yamato migrated into Japan and Korea. The Yamato built mound tombs for important individuals who had died; the largest tombs being for the emperor and those of higher authority. The tomb chambers were filled with luxury goods meant to serve the deceased in the spirit world. Originally, they were mostly positioned to line the edge of the tomb mound, their upper portion protruding above ground to mark the tomb. Haniwa are seen in many forms, but the human figures in particular appear to have served as protectors and marks of status for the individual buried within.

Later Haniwa figures have taken on more expressive forms and materials beyond unglazed clay, (wood, straw and paper): (animals, [in particular the horse], musicians, dancers, dwellings, and figures from all walks of life. These forms succeed in catching the essential characteristics of each figure (there was no need to go into too much detail since Haniwa were to be seen in the open air and from a distance) with a keenness of observation remarkable even today. These remained so until the spread of the Buddhist practice of cremation, which put an end to the whole idea of burial mounds.

And finally, in ancient times, there was a custom for people to purify themselves in the sea or a free flowing river and transfer their defilement to these figures that were shaped like people of the time. These figures were cast into the water with offerings on March 3 of each year, asking for forgiveness of wrongdoings and impurities of children. The figures shown were most likely created for a ceremonial or festival purpose.

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