Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Final Jōmon period (ca. 1000–300 B.C.)
ca. 2000 B.C.
H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); W. 7 5/8 in. (19.4 cm); D. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm)
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
These implements—an arrowhead, fishhooks, needle, and harpoon—were skillfully carved from bone, a material worked by Japanese artisans since Paleolithic times. They were found in the Obara Shell Mound at Ofunato Bay in Iwate Prefecture. According to information gleaned from shell mounds, or middens, the people of the Jomon period relied on a variety of strategies to obtain food. The large number of fishhooks, fashioned with and without barbs, together with the rich array of marine remains found in these rubbish heaps since very early times indicate that some fifty species of fish and shellfish constituted an essential dietary staple. Toggle-head harpoons, a later innovation, facilitated the hunting of sea mammals. Attaching a line to the toggle allowed the hunter to draw in his prey once the toggle had broken away from the harpoon shaft. Further evidence gathered from these refuse dumps suggests that the Jomon people also relied heavily on nuts, collected most actively in the autumn, and hunted animals, notably wild boar and deer. (1975.268.333–.345)
Ōbora Shell Mound, Ōfunato Bay, Iwate Prefecture

[ Harry G. C. Packard , Tokyo, until 1975; donated and sold to MMA].
Related Objects

Fragment of a bowl with a frieze of bulls in relief

Artist: Date: ca. 3300–2900 B.C.
Accession Number: 50.218
Date: ca. 3300–2900 B.C. Medium: Steatite with chlorite Accession: 50.218 On view in:Gallery 402

Gravestone of Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, died Shawwal A.H. 532/ June/July A.D. 1138

Artist: Date: dated A.H. 532/A.D. 1138
Accession Number: 48.101.3
Date: dated A.H. 532/A.D. 1138 Medium: Steatite; carved Accession: 48.101.3 On view in:Gallery 453

Seated Figure (Tumba)

Artist: Date: 19th–20th century
Accession Number: 1978.412.573
Date: 19th–20th century Medium: Steatite Accession: 1978.412.573 On view in:Gallery 352


Artist: Date: ca. 2000 B.C.
Accession Number: 1975.268.338
Date: ca. 2000 B.C. Medium: Steatite Accession: 1975.268.338 On view in:Not on view

Stamp seal and modern impression: unicorn and incense burner (?)

Artist: Date: ca. 2600–1900 B.C.
Accession Number: 49.40.1
Date: ca. 2600–1900 B.C. Medium: Burnt steatite Accession: 49.40.1 On view in:Gallery 403