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         Around the middle of the Jomon Period,clay dolls became bigger in size, and came to have diverse and complex shapes and postures.  Besides, there is a very strange point with those dolls.
         Different from the earthenware made in the same period, clay dolls have seldom been found whole and complete.  All dolls, except in extremely rare cases, were excavated in fragments.  Furthermore, they can be seldom restored to their complete figures with the fragments found in the same place. For example, as many as 1,116 fragments of clay dolls, a seventh of all the clay dolls so far found in Japan, were excavated in the Shakado Site in Yamanashi Prefecture, but there was not a single whole and complete one among them, and no perfect doll was reconstructed with those innumerable fragments. Among 1,116 pieces, there were 22 cases in which a piece could be put together with another piece.  But even in these cases, one piece was found at 120 meters' distance of the other one, and the longest distance between two matching pieces was 230 meters.
         This leads archaeologists to assume that in the mid-Jomon Period, people took a lot of trouble to make elaborate clay dolls, and then destroyed them and took the pieces to different places. Furthermore, it is clear that Jomon people who lived in the Shakado Site made the dolls with the purpose of destroying them.  They first made parts of dollsf body with separate masses of clay, and tied the parts together with strings made of tree or bamboo.  This devise enabled them to easily gbreakh dolls into neat pieces. 

Fragments of dolls worshipped in the house

         After the mid-Jomon Period, people not only broke clay dolls but carefully enshrined and worshipped their fragments in the house.  In the Tochikura Site in Tochio City, Niigata Prefecture, for example, it was confirmed that fragments of a clay doll was treated as a deity in one of the three houses which belong to the mid-Jomon Period.
        There is a circular hole of 26 cm in diameter and 51 cm in depth in the house.  The hole is filled with black mud and pieces of charcoal mixed.  In the center of the hole, a clay dollfs body part without its head, arms and legs is put upside down.  Fragments of earthenware whose inside are painted red are pressed against the wall of the hole, and surround the broken doll. The body of the clay doll is propped up with pieces of another earthenware so that it does not fall down.
         In another place of the house, an oblong stone is placed. It is about 23 cm long and 7 cm high.  Its upper surface is polished, and its side has yellow paint remaining. On this stone, which is supposed to be an altar, a broken clay doll without its head and lower half of the body is lying on its back.

        Why did Jomon people make a clay doll, break it and worship its fragments?

        A theory says that Jomon people broke the part of a clay doll corresponding to their ill part, and pray to a god for recovery.  But a professor at Gakushuin University, Atsuhiko Yoshida, proposes a more convincing theory in his
Mysteries of Jomon Religion (Tokyo: Yamato Shobo, 1993), connecting the doll-breaking and -worshipping act with an Indonesian myth which used to be told among a native tribe, the Wemales in Ceram, one of the Moluccas Islands.

Broken clay dolls and Goddess Hainuwele

         The heroine of the Indonesian myth, Goddess Hainuwele, was born on a coconut tree in the same way as a coconut grows.  The owner of the tree, Ameta, saw her, brought her down and raised her as his daughter.  She grew up into a beautiful girl in no time.  When she discharged solid wastes out of her body, they marvelously came out as valuable goods.  Ameta soon became a wealthy man.
         At one time, over many nights, Hainuwele kept giving away treasures she discharged to people who were dancing around her through the night.  She was boundlessly generous.  People who received treasures finally found her behavior wierd, and during the dance on the last night they threw her down into a deep hole they had dug beforehand.  They threw earth in on her, danced on it, tread down to harden it and buried her alive.
         Next day Ameta knew what had happened, and dug up his daughterfs dead body, and cut it into many pieces.  He took the pieces to different places and buried them.  Then a different kind of potato grew up from each piece.  The myth concludes that thanks to this, human beings can grow those potatoes in their fields and live on them.

         The same type of myth is told widely from Indonesia, through Melanesia and Polynesia to South America and a part of North America.
          Professor Yoshida says that Japan has the same myth and that it is told as early as in Kojiki (AD 712) which collected stories and tells the history of the royal family at that time, starting from the age of gods.  He thinks the myth has the same origin of the Hainuwelemyth, which is most likely to have already arrived at Japan on its way to Melanesia, Polynesia and other countiries in the Jomon Period. His theory is that Jomon clay dolls were a goddess of Hainuwele, and those broken fragments were parts of the goddess's body from which potatoes and other foods would grow. Jomon people prayed to a goddess of fertility as all races and tribes did and do.


Broken Clay Dolls