Haniwa (Hollow Clay Sculpture) of a Boar with Bound Feet

Period: Kofun period (ca. 300–710)

Date: 5th century

Culture: Japan

Medium: Earthenware

Dimensions: H. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm); W. 2 in. (5.1 cm); L. 4 7/8 in. (12/4 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

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: 1975.268.418


This poignant figure of a dead infant boar shows the variety and range of expression achieved by the makers of haniwa figures. Although the reason for making this image is unknown, the large snout, curled body, and bound limbs of this small animal are the result of subtle observation and skillful hands.

The practice of building sepulchral earthen mounds and burying treasures with the dead was transmitted to Japan from the continent around the third century A.D. and caused a significant change in burial customs. The bodies of the dead were interred in large wooden coffins placed in the tomb chambers. Buried with the deceased were such items as bronze mirrors, tools, weapons, personal ornaments, horse decorations, and clay vessels. The outer part of the burial mounds was lined with stones. Haniwa, sometimes numbering in the thousands, were placed in rows at the base and scattered on the crest of the knolls or on the sloping sides of the mounds.