/hah"nee wah'/, n., pl. haniwa.
any of the terra-cotta models of people, animals, and houses from the Yayoi period of Japanese culture.
[1965-70; < Japn, earlier faniwa, equiv. to fani red clay + wa wheel]

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Terra-cotta cylinders and sculptures arranged on and around Japanese tombs during the Tumulus period (с AD 250–552).

The earliest haniwa were barrel-shaped hollow cylinders used to mark the borders of a burial ground. By the 4th century the cylinders were topped with sculptures of warriors, attendants, dancers, animals, boats, birds, and military equipment. After the introduction of Buddhism and the practice of cremation, the making of haniwa declined.

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▪ Japanese sculpture
      unglazed terra-cotta cylinders and hollow sculptures arranged on and around the mounded tombs (kofun) of the Japanese elite dating from the Tumulus period (c. AD 250–552). The first and most common haniwa were barrel-shaped cylinders (haniwa means “circle of clay”) used to mark the borders of a burial ground. Later, in the early 4th century, the cylinders were surmounted by sculptural forms such as figures of warriors, female attendants, dancers, birds, animals, boats, military equipment, and even houses. It is believed that the figures symbolized continued service to the deceased in the other world.

      Haniwa vary from 1 to 5 feet (30 to 150 cm) in height, the average being approximately 3 feet (90 cm) high. The human figures were often decorated with incised geometric patterns and pigments of white, red, and blue. The eyes, noses, and mouths of the hollow forms are indicated by perforation, lending the objects a mysterious charm. Haniwa were mass-produced during the 6th century, but thereafter the introduction of Buddhism and the practice of cremation caused a decline in the building of tumuli and, thus, in the production of haniwa.

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Universalium. 2010.

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