Name/TitleMagatama beads (勾玉), from Okinoshima (沖ノ島), NT
About this objectMagatama, comma-shaped beads, were found on the steppe and in Korea (gokok) and Japan in the first millennium BC long before Buddhism. They are believed to have had a ritual purpose in traditional religions. They were made from various materials, including semi-precious stones and glass. These notched examples made of talc were excavated from the Okinoshima [EXH47] ceremonial site no.8, and date to the 5th–6th century.
Magatama continued to be seen in Japan after the introduction of Buddhism, as seen in those on the necklaces worn by priestesses during Shinto ceremonies at Okinawa.
In Korea they are frequently seen in accoutrements of the royalty of the Three Kingdoms, such as a 5th century Silla crown [EXH]. It is probable that traditional ceremonies for coronations and memorials continued to be held in Korea even after the introduction of Buddhism, and that crowns and similar objects with gokok played their part in these.
Date Made5th to 6th century
Subject and Association KeywordsEncounters
Subject and Association DescriptionLearn more: Glover 2019; Nishimura 2018; UNESCO 2017
Medium and MaterialsTalc
Measurements8.3 to 15 cm
Credit LineMunakata Grand Shrine
Object numberEXH48: Japan NT