Home > Japanese Culture > Dogu express respects for mother goddess

Dogu express respects for mother goddess

I’ve finally started writing an article that Mugami requested, which is about Jomon era. I’ll focus on Dogu in the article.

Do you know Dogu? Dogu are figurines made from clay in Jomon era, about 14,000 B.C. to 400 B.C. I got a chance to visit the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno at the end of the last year. The exhibit on Dogu were held in there.

In Jomon era, people started changing their life style from immigrating to settling. People built up their houses or apartments called tateana shiki juukyo, collected shells or hunt animals. People had much respect for the Mother Goddesses and found it important to keep their fertilities and pregnancies. Pregnancies looked miraculous for the people at that time. Birth were treated as one of the most important events. People held rituals in their life to express their deep respects for fertilities and pregnancies and Dogu were used in the rituals. And surprisingly, respects for pregnancies reflected shapes of Dogu. Most of Dogu have many female’s elements, such as breasts, thin waists, and hips. Dogu also have themselves tattooed in their body. It also means that Dogu are used in the rituals.

I was surprised with one fact while studying Dogu. Look at following photos of Dogu. You can see them cracked and lost their some parts of the bodies. Dogu with only its right leg, I just thought it lost its left leg because it took a long time. I was wrong. As I wrote, Dogu were used in the rituals. Medical technologies were ofcourse not advanced. People must have suffered from diseases or injuries. In the rituals, people hit the parts of Dogu and tried to repel many unluckiness. People used Dogu as one of effigies or charms. Moreover, please look at the photos, can you see some cracks in their bodies? They had such cracks on purpose! In order to easily break Dogu at the ritual, people prepared cracks in advance.

The deeper I study Dogu, the more interested in them I got. Incidentally, you have to distinguish between Dogu and Haniwa. At first, Dogu were made in Jomon era and Haniwa were made in another era, from 3rd century to 7th century. In the respect of ‘made from which’, both Dogu and Haniwa were made from clay, however, they have different purposes each other. As I wrote above, Dogu were used in the rituals. Haniwa were used to show the sacred areas. Haniwa were lined surround the tombs. Haniwa showed the sign said, ‘This is the sacred place.’

I scanned some photos of Dogu and will post them in this article.

This Dogu has its heart-shaped face. You can see tiny breasts and tattoo in the body.
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I like this Dogu, crouching down shaped. It is said that this Dogu dedicated a priest.
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I think this is the most famous Dogu in Japan. You remember this listed in textbooks of histroies when you were in elementary school or junior high school. It’s called shakouki Dogu. It wears something like goggles. Many sholars used to think that it was goggles, however, it’s become the main theory that it’s not goggles, but a deformation of eyes. In fact, no one has still excavated any artifact like goggles. Personally, I believe that it dedicates aliens or something…lol
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It’s called gasshou Dogu. ‘gasshou’ means ‘to pray touching each palm'(I don’t know if this would be an correct expression) The Japanese have many opportunities to do ‘gasshou’, for example, before we start eating, we say the word; itadakimasu doing ‘gasshou.’
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This pottery shows the very reason why people say Jomon. You can see patterns on the pottery. It looks like the one by ropes or something, right? The letter Jo(u) means “rope” and people at the era decorate potteries with ropes.
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  1. Mugami
    February 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Gasshou would be “Hands clasped in prayer”. There is no special adjective for it, because prayer in europe it is typically how we pray. I thought I commented about this before? Did it not post or something?

    • honeypotter
      February 4, 2010 at 12:24 am

      Hi, Mugami! It’s been a long time! How’s your situation? Better? I hope you would be fine.

      What do you think of this post? I hope you would be satisfied with this Jomon topic.

      Oh, “Hands clasped in prayer”? I just imagined people crossing their fingers from this phrase. Gasshou, you have to bring your both palms together, the both palms should be flat at that time. Ummmm…I can’t explain it well… 😦

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