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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Do not occur in the Yamato sepulchres



Traces of a culture occupying a place intermediate between the primitive culture and that of the Yamato are not conclusive. They are seen in pottery which, like the ware of the neolithic sites, is not turned on the wheel, and, like the Yamato ware, is decorated in a very subdued and sober fashion. It is found from end to end of the main island and even in Yezo, and in pits, shell-heaps, and independent sites as well as in tombs, burial caves, and cairns of the Yamato. Thus, there does not seem to be sufficient warrant for associating it with a special race. It was possibly supplied to order of the Yamato by the aboriginal craftsmen, who naturally sought to copy the salient features of the conquering immigrants' ware.


There are also some bronze vestiges to which considerable interest attaches, for evidently people using bronze weapons could not have stood against men carrying iron arms, and therefore the people to whom the bronze implements belonged must have obtained a footing in Japan prior to the Yamato, unless they came at the latter's invitation or as their allies. Moreover, these bronze relics--with the exception of arrow-heads--though found in the soil of western and southern Japan, do not occur in the Yamato sepulchres, which feature constitutes another means of differentiation. Daggers, swords, halberds, and possibly spear-heads constitute the

hand-weapons. The daggers have a certain resemblance to the Malay kris, and the swords and halberds are generally leaf-shaped. But some features, as overshort tangs and unpierced loops, suggest that they were manufactured, not for service in battle but for ceremonial purposes, being thus mere survivals from an era when their originals were in actual use, and possibly those originals may have been of iron. Some straight-edged specimens have been classed as spear-heads, but they closely resemble certain ancient bronze swords of China. As for bronze arrow-heads, they occur alike in Yamato sepulchres and in the soil, so that no special inference is warranted in their case. The bronze hand-weapons have been found in twelve provinces of southern and western Japan: namely, five provinces of northwest Kyushu; three on the Inland Sea; one facing Korea and China, and the rest on the islands of Iki and Tsushima.

These localities and the fact that similar swords have been met with in Shantung, suggest that the bronze culture came from central and eastern Asia, which hypothesis receives confirmation from the complete absence of bronze vestiges in the southern provinces of Kyushu, namely, Osumi and Satsuma. Bronze bells, of which there are many, belong to a separate page of archaeology. Though they have been found in no less than twenty-four provinces, there is no instance of their presence in the same sites with hand-weapons of bronze. In Kyushu, Higo is the only province where they have been seen, whereas in the main island they extend as far east as Totomi, and are conspicuously numerous in that province and its neighbour, Mikawa, while in Omi they are most abundant of all. They vary in height from about one foot four inches to four and a half feet, and are of highly specialized shape, the only cognate type being bells used in China during the Chou dynasty (1122-225 B.C.) for the purpose of giving military signals. A Chinese origin is still more clearly indicated by the decorative designs, which show a combination of the circle, the triangle, and the spiral, obviously identical with the decorative motive* on Chinese drums of the Han dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220). The circle and the triangle occur also in the sepulchral pottery of the Yamato sites, and considering the fact together with the abundance of the bells in districts where the Yamato were most strongly established, there seems to be warrant for attributing these curious relics to the Yamato culture.

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