About this artwork
Figurines from the Jômon period have been found in greater numbers than figural representations from Neolithic China or Korea, pointing toward Japan’s rich ritual life, within which these figurines played an important role.
Though roughly executed, this figurine exudes human expression. Its features were made with a stick (the V-shaped mouth), by pinching clay between the artist’s fingers (the nose, brow, and ears), and by pressing the artist’s nails into the clay (the eyes). Although this sculpture is missing most of its arms and legs, a line indicating some sort of clothing worn at the waist is visible. Next to one eye is a natural stone inclusion in the clay, and red pigment was painted in the incisions. On the back is a spiral design, as well as a modern label that indicates that the figure was unearthed in the Tama ward area of western Tokyo.
- Smiling Figurine
- 1000 BCE–300 BCE
- 4 1/2 x 3 3/4 x 1 1/2 in.
- Purchased with Funds Provided by the Weston Foundation; President's Exhibition and Acquisition Fund