Kawano Masanori: Craft Production in Kofun-age Japan from the Perspective of Agricultural Tools

Thursday 12/5,  12:00-12:45 PM,  Doheny Library 233

Craft Production in Kofun-age Japan from the Perspective of Agricultural Tools
KAWANO Masanori, Postdoctoral Scholar, Meiji University

The mid-Kofun Period (the fifth century) witnessed a drastic change in people’s daily life, owing to rapid technological innovation.  This technological innovation owed much to immigrants from the Korean peninsula who brought advanced technologies with them.  Among such innovations, changes in the morphologies of iron plowheads and iron sickles resulted in a marked increase in the rice productivity for the first time since the Yayoi Period.  What remains unclear however is to what extent Korean immigrants and native Japanese craftsmen were involved in the evolution of craft production.  In order to approach this difficult issue, I have focused on investigating the production ofvarious types of iron sickles in the fifth century.  My conclusion is that we can distinguish between lunar-shaped curved blade iron sickles produced with native Japanese technology and quite similar to Korean iron sickles.  While the former were produced by Japanese craftsmen, the latter was either imported from the Korean peninsula or produced either by Korean craftsmen in Japan or by Japanese craftsmen under the guidance of Korean craftsmen in Japan.  In the early fifth century, most iron sickles were of the former type, which suggests that Japanese craftsmen imitated Korean products without mastering the Korean technology.  In the late fifth century, however, most of the iron sickles were of the latter type, suggesting that Korean immigrants possessing advanced technology were actively involved in the production of agricultural tools.  This resulted in technological innovation, which is also resulted in the changing morphology of iron plowheads.  Analysis of iron agricultural tools can contribute substantially to our understanding of the craft production system during the Kofun Period.

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