magatama 曲玉
KEY WORD : architecture / decorations
1 Also written 勾玉. A bead with religious significance, introduced to Japan from the Korean peninsular. It is thought to have been worn on the body in the Joumon, Yayoi and Kofun periods. It is usually shaped like a comma tomoe 巴 (see *tomoemon 巴文), but also found in a left side open square box コ shape or in a mountain shape 山. The size varies from a few millimeters to five centimeters and is made of jadeite kougyoku 硬玉, agate menou 瑪瑙, talc kasseki 滑石, glass, or jasper hekigyoku 碧玉. Kofun period magatama have been incorporated into the crown of the main Buddhist statue at Toudaiji *Hokkedou 東大寺法華堂 in Nara. Nowadays the magatama is used as a ceremonial item in Shinto festivals and is worn by spiritualist women, noro, in Ryuukyuu Island religious rituals.

2 A comma-shaped, decorative motif carved into a frog-leg strut *kaerumata 蟇股. It first appeared in the Kamakura period.


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