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Large Japanese Neolithic Bowl


Height: 18.9 cm. (7 1/2 in.)
Width: 46.8 cm. (18 1/2 in.)

Late Jōmon period 繩文晚期
c. 1500 B.C.

The bowl is heavily built with the walls rising at a wide angle from a flat base to a flared, undulating, tri-peaked rim. Only the top of the thick rim is decorated, the decor consisting of six pairs of deeply grooved double lines each terminating in a hook dividing the rim into six segments, the three peaks rising like cresting waves at points equidistant from each other along the rim. The fabric of the bowl is thick reddish earthenware, relatively smooth on the outside and burnt blackish-grey toward the base while the interior has an irregular surface with an indented ledge below the rim.

An unusual penchant for simplicity, along with an uncharacteristic rim design, is similar to a tall Jōmon jar previously owned by Kaikodo, both also characterized by simple, unadorned bodies.[1] The bowl, a very rare form among published Jōmon wares, was likely a product of the Chiba area, suggested not only by the unusual features it shares with the previous jar but through comparison with a bowl with its grooved rim rising into four peaks that was discovered in Chiba prefecture.[2] Another bowl of this rare type was illustrated with a group of jars from Nagano prefecture and ascribed to the Middle Jōmon period, perhaps representative of an incipient phase of the Late Jōmon style under review.[3]

Jōmon, translated literally as “cord-marked,” is the generic term used for the early pottery of Japan, a pottery noteworthy for its characteristic designs and methods of decoration produced through the use of cord-wrapped paddles or sticks to beat or impress the clay while still wet and workable. The term also applies to the Neolithic peoples who produced such wares, to their culture in general, and to the period during which the people flourished and the pottery was produced, spanning roughly 10,000 years.

1. See Kaikodo Journal XXX (Spring 2014) no. 38.

2. See J. Edward Kidder, Prehistoric Japanese Arts, Jōmon Pottery, Tokyo, New York and San Francisco, 1968, pl. 289, p. 205.

3. See ibid. pl. 289, p. 205.

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