The grave of a leading family in Sue ware production? Pupa cases of flies are key to illuminating mortuary ceremony.

Conditions inside Stone Chamber No. 1
This is a small stone chamber, 4 m in overall length and with a main burial chamber 2.8 m long by 1.4 m wide. Very near the back wall, lidded short-necked jars and a wine server (hasō) are placed centered on a jar stand with miniature attached vessels, and close to the wine server several iron arrowheads and an iron axe were laid as offerings. Within the box-shaped wooden coffin, to the left as one faces in, were three dishes and an antler-hafted knife. The man laid on top of the board to the right was wearing an antler-hafted knife at his waist. To the right just inside the entrance was a single short-necked jar and matching lid.

Hazaike tomb (arrow, from the west) and schematic diagram of chamber positions
Nos. 2-5 were constructed around the same time, with chamber No. 1 built later, after No. 4 was torn down.

Food for the departed
Among the Sue ware vessels lined up as grave goods, in front of the back wall of Chamber No. 1, there were shells of clams that had been placed inside one of the lidded short-necked jars. These were probably offerings to serve as food in the next world. They do not appear to have been cooked by either boiling or grilling.

Entrance to Chamber No. 2
No. 2 is a magnificent stone chamber, with a main room roughly three times the volume of that of No. 1. This photo was taken from the back wall when one portion of the stones sealing the entrance had been removed. Littering the floor are fragments of wood, and large Sue items are seen such as a jar stand with miniature attached vessels, a cylindrical jar stand, and a jar with miniatures attached to the shoulder. Placed within the latter item, standing atop a step in the entrance way, were sherds that fit with the body of a wine server discovered within the chamber.

Jar stand with attached miniatures and a lidded short-necked jar
Late Kofun, mid to late sixth century.
Height of jar stand: 29 cm.
These are two of the six sets of Sue ware that were lined up in front of the back wall of Chamber No. 1. One of the miniature dishes has been removed. At present the missing dish has not been discovered either within or outside the stone chamber, or from the surface of the mound.

Pedestaled jar with miniatures attached to the shoulder
Late Kofun, mid to late sixth century. Height: 42.8 cm.
This item was placed lying down, along the north lateral wall of Chamber No. 2, which opens to the west. The shoulder of the jar has a brim, atop which five miniature jars are distributed. Among these small jars, two were artificially removed, and the fragments including tiny bits were spread throughout the chamber interior. It is thought their removal held ceremonial meaning.

Main burial chamber of Stone Chamber No. 1 as excavated

Pupa cases left by matured flies
Bits of cloth bearing red pigment and the pupa cases of flies were adhering to the cranium of the man interred on top of the board inside Chamber No. 1. Flies of the genus Hydrotaea are active in illuminated places, and lay eggs mainly between spring and autumn. The egg-laying is done several days after death, when the decomposition of the corpse has begun.

Equestrian gear placed in the seal of Chamber No. 2
When the stones sealing the chamber were completely removed, a gilt bronze harness jingle bell (upper circle) and an iron heart-shaped harness pendant (lower circle) lay on the surface underneath. It is thought that a rite of parting with the deceased was performed using these items of equestrian gear.
Square harness fittings; oblong amber beads; multicolored glass bead
Late Kofun, mid to late sixth century.
Diameter, multicolored glass bead: 1.6 cm.
In addition to the harness pendant and bell at the seal of Chamber No. 2, from within the main burial chamber items of equestrian gear were recovered, including saddle fittings such as a bow buckle and edging, and a cheekplate ornament for a bit, along with numerous other metal fittings for a leather harness. As beads, a total of 94 items of various types such as oblong beads were recovered. The multicolored glass bead has a background of green with a belt of blue glass wrapped around the middle.

Hazaike Tomb, Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture

Unplundered horizontal stone chambers

Two unplundered horizontal stone chambers were excavated at a tomb built in the mid-sixth century atop a hill on the south bank of the Ono river, in the southeastern part of Dōgo plain in Ehime prefecture, Shikoku. The mound is oval in shape, 41 m in length and 23 m at its greatest width, and while discovered during development as agricultural land in 1992, as it fortunately had been spared any plundering or disturbance, it was possible to obtain a variety of information about the nature of the burials, and about the rites and ceremony observed at the mound, within and outside the chambers.

Chamber No. 1 and its wooden coffin

Within Chamber No. 1 on the south side of the mound, a box style composite wooden coffin, and a board thought to have been used for a burial, had been lined up side by side. The material for both was Japanese cypress.

Inside the box style coffin, placed to the left as seen from the entrance, was a single interred individual of unknown age or sex, using a natural stone as a pillow, and on the top of the board to the right an adult male had been laid, also with a natural stone pillow. In addition, the remains of a young man who was the first person interred had been removed from the wooden coffin and deposited in the left rear corner of the chamber. It is thought that the wooden coffin had been used twice for the burials of two individuals, and that lastly the board was brought in for use in another interment. These events date from the interval spanning the latter half of the sixth and the beginning of the seventh centuries.

From the bones of the young male laid on top of the board, pupa cases of a fly of the genus Hydrotaea were found. From the breeding habits of this fly, it is thought that the man was not interred in the stone chamber soon after death, but laid out before burial for a certain period of time in a place where there was light. This is important evidence indicating the mortuary custom of the time known as mogari (laying the corpse in an open manner for a considerable period prior to burial).

Chamber No. 2 and various burial facilities

Chamber No. 2, on the northern side of the mound, is the central stone chamber of this tomb. Inside, wood of the Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata), thought to have been a coffin, lay in fragments, littering the entire floor along with burial goods such as pottery, equestrian gear, and personal ornaments.

This condition is thought to be the result of multiple rites and disturbances carried out in the chamber during the Kofun period.

In addition to these two facilities, there are two small vertical chambers such as No. 3 which was used for the burial of an infant, along with a horizontal stone chamber, No. 4, which had been dismantled and filled in. Chamber No. 1 is understood to have been added after the removal of No. 4, at nearly the same location. Also, a horse mandible was buried at the moundfs southern end. Numerous Sue ware kilns are distributed in the region, the surrounding Ono valley area, where the tomb is located. A leading family among people involved in Sue production is thought to be buried in the Hazaike tomb. (Kurita Shigetoshi)

Adapted from Hakkutsu sareta Nihon rettō 2011 [Excavations in the Japanese Archipelago, 2011] (Bunkachō [Agency for Cultural Affairs], ed., Asahi Shimbun Publications, 2011).
Photos courtesy of Matsuyama Municipal Board of Education