A NEW exhibition at Stonehenge will feature ancient Japanese artefacts – none of which have been displayed in Britain before.
The artefacts – including a 5,000-year-old Jomon Flame Pot – will feature in the ‘Circles of Stone: Stonehenge and Prehistoric Japan’, Britain’s first ever exhibition about Japanese stone circles.
The display, through more than 80 objects, aims to tell the remarkable story of prehistoric cultures, 6,000 miles apart.
The star of the show, the ‘Flame Pot’, is designated in Japan as a national treasure and is a highly decorated type of Jomon ceramic made in central Japan about 5,000 years ago.
The Jomon period in Japan spanned the European Mesolithic, Neolithic and early Bronze Age periods put together and the pot’s fantastical shape evokes blazing flames, flowing water, or perhaps the crests of cockerels.
This is the first time it has gone on display outside Japan.
Also featured will be fragments of exquisite clay figurines, known as dogu in Japanese.
These have been found at Jomon settlements and stone circles and it has been suggested they may have represented earth goddesses or spirits, for use in fertility or healing rituals.
It is believed that many dogu were intentionally broken and scattered during ceremonies.
The exhibition also explores more recent connections between Stonehenge and Japan through the art of Japanese woodblock printer Yoshijiro Urushibara who worked in Britain in the 1920s and British archaeologist William Gowland.
Gowland used the techniques he had learnt in Japan to influence the way in which he carried out excavations and interpreted the evidence at Stonehenge at the dawn of the 20th century.
Martin Allfrey, senior curator for English Heritage, said: “Exploring what is happening elsewhere in the prehistoric world is key to understanding the significance of Stonehenge.
“It’s tantalising to look at what these extraordinary objects from Japan tell us about the similarities between these communities who, while thousands of miles apart, were perhaps ideologically closer than one might imagine.”
Admission to the exhibition will be free to Stonehenge ticket holders, English Heritage and National Trust England members and Local Resident Pass holders.