6 June 2019
Japanese Jewelry Culture: Magatamas
Japanese Jewelry Culture: Magatamas 2Shapes

Magatama (勾玉) are curved, comma-shaped beads that appeared in prehistoric Japan. Magatamas were considered jewels, they were made of primitive stones and earthen materials in the early period, but by the end of the Kofun period were made almost exclusively of jade and they became ceremonial and religious objects. Archaeological evidence suggests that magatama were produced in specific areas of Japan and were widely dispersed throughout the Japanese archipelago via trade routes.

One of the most famous magatamas it is part of the Imperial Regalia of Japan also known as Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, it consists of the sword Kusanagi (草薙劍), the mirror Yata no Kagami (八咫鏡), and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama. They represent the three primary virtues: valor (the sword), wisdom (the mirror), and benevolence (the jewel). Alvin and Heidi Toffler's use them to symbolize the three kinds of power they distinguish: force (sword), wealth (jewel) and knowledge (mirror).

The phrase "Three Sacred Treasures" is retrospectively applied to durable goods of modern Japan. During the mid-1950s and mid-1960s, the "three sacred treasures" for durable goods were the washing machine, refrigerator, and the black and white television, and the automobile, air conditioner, and color television set from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.


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