Head from a Haniwa in the Shape of a Horse
On View: Asian Galleries, Arts of Japan, 2nd floor
Clay cylinders called haniwa were set into the ground around the large funerary mounds created during Japan’s Kofun period (circa 300–538 C.E.). Their original purpose was probably to mark and protect the periphery of the tomb. Many haniwa have been decorated to resemble houses, animals, or people; these likely represented the entourage and possessions that the deceased would need in the afterlife.
The figural haniwa appears to represent a female of high status, with jewelry and a shelf-like headdress. It is unusual that the pigment on her face and body survives. Because of her distinctive facial markings, she is sometimes identified as a holy woman or shaman, but it may be that many different types of women marked their faces during this period.
Low fired earthenware pottery, reassembled from fragments
6 x 5 1/2 x 12 1/4 in. (15.2 x 14 x 31.1 cm) (show scale)
Gift of Isamu Noguchi
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Head from a Haniwa in the Shape of a Horse, 5th-6th century. Low fired earthenware pottery, reassembled from fragments, 6 x 5 1/2 x 12 1/4 in. (15.2 x 14 x 31.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Isamu Noguchi, 61.233. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 61.233_PS9.jpg)
overall, 61.233_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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Low fired pottery horse head (haniwa)
Earthenware haniwa in the form of a horse head with bridle of applied boss and strip decoration.
Condition: Left ear void, right ear chipped. Back of head and most of left side is badly worn. Some repair to bridle straps at right side.
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