Length: 80.600 cm
Gift of Professor S. Umehara
Asia JA 1965.2-23.3
Rooms 92-94: Japan
Dōhoko (ritual spear blade)
Yayoi period (about 300 BC to 300 AD)
This bronze spear blade is said to have been excavated at Okamoto-chō, Kasuga City, in modern Fukuoka Prefecture. The blade has no attachment hole at the end, which suggests that it had no practical use but, like dōtaku and mirrors at the time, was made for burial in a ceremony possibly connected with agriculture. Its form is copied from a Chinese original.
Iron and bronze were introduced into Japan at about the same time, so there was no recognizable 'Bronze Age' predating the use of iron. Iron was quickly recognized as the stronger of the two metals, more suitable for producing tools and weapons. Bronze was used for ritual objects such as mirrors, daggers and spears such as this one.
L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)