◆Cultural history of color and Jomon People's view of nature
Cultural history of color and Jomon People's view of nature
Let's consider the cultural history of color this time. I'd like to think out color culture in Jomon Times ultimately, but relating data are limited. That leads us to consider remote ages from current times so as to pave the way for Jomon studies, I think.
In my opinion consideration on color culture means at the same time to think about Jomon People's view of nature. So I'm going to also consider how Jomon People grasped the situation of surrounding environment.
Jomon People and cherry blossoms, Jomon People and Deutzia
Japanese people have a habit of "Yoshuku (Preliminary celebration)" to liken cherry blossoms to trees heavy with abundant fruits. This thinking way has been considered to become fixed after rice crop farming was brought to Japan, but I wonder if it already existed in Jomon Times. Low trees called "Utsugi (Deutzia)" also send out numerous buds in bunches like rosary. It looks like preliminary celebration of a rich harvest in autumn. It's considered that these plants, which grow wild in fields and mountains in Japan, had a hand in Jomon People, showing changes of the seasons and assuring the harvest season. The conspicuous white in early spring may have had a very deep meaning.
Jomon People's agricultural management
Jomon Times has so far been said a hunting and collecting culture, but I consider it was a society managing agriculture and forestry. My judgment comes from the situation that people were committed with forestry management in vast area, recognizing the age and size of growing trees. For example, chestnut trees occupied vast area in the settlement at Sannai-Maruyama Site, suggesting the existence of large scale chestnut farmers. I can estimate that a certain system not to exhaust resources was formed, judging from the fact that chestnut forest didn't become extinct. It shows that they had a view of nature to maintain a certain system by many hands for a long time.
Rice crop farming and dry field farming has been fundamentally managed as a cycle a year since Yayoi Age. In case of trees we must grasp yearly changes for several hundred years. In other words Jomon People actually maintained and managed forests including chestnut trees which only excellent observers could do. It sometimes exceeds the limit of generation, showing the existence of a certain system to hand down their experiences to their children and grandchildren.
Rare purple in the natural world swept over the society
Chinese have "Theory of Five Elements" which are tree, fire, soil, gold and water, and each corresponding color is blue, red, yellow, white and black, and each corresponding meaning is virtue, courtesy, faith, justice and wisdom. Such a thought was brought to ancient Japan. When "Twelve Level Cap and Rank System" was established in Japan, purple with the sense of morality was added to the elements. The color was decided as the highest ranking. Though the reason isn't clear, it may be because purple was very rare in the natural world.
In Heian Period Shikibu Murasaki wrote "the Tale of Genji." The author's family name is Fuji by nature and it isn't too much to say that the Tale was written all over with the color of purple. We can consider one of the reasons was that Fujiwara reigned over the whole country at that time and that the color of Fujiwara's Fuji (Wisteria) was purple. It may be true that rarity in nature led to nobility in ancient times, sweeping over the society.
Big power of plants' color
I told you at the last Jomon Seminar that red and black were important as the color in Jomon Times. The red was the sun and blood, representing exuberant vitality. We can see an instance in ancient times. There is a site called Fujinoki-Kofun (Ancient tomb) in Nara Prefecture. The inside of the stone coffin was deep red. Examining the cloth found in the inside closely, a quantity of safflower's pollen was detected and we knew the cloth was dyed with safflower. An instance that high-ranking person was wrapped in safflower dyed cloth in funeral ceremony was well known in ancient Egypt. So I think red had surely big power and nobility.
Safflower was brought over to China via Silk-road from western Asia and came over to Japan in 3~4 century. I wonder whether the red of safflower is located on the extension line from Jomon Times.
"Higanbana (Lycoris radiate)" was also brought over from China and it has been considered to have already come over to Japan in Jomon Times. It is well known for blooming up prettily in red around the equinoctial week in various regions including western Japan. I consider the red of Higanbana has an important meaning.
Red was believed to have a strong power to drive away something vicious. So people considered they could drive away worms by planting it in a paddy field, I think.
"Floral decoration fan" is drawn in pictures on and after the medieval ages in Kyoto and Osaka. Floral decoration fan is a fan-shaped straw bundle decorated with deep red "Sennou (Lychnis)" and was used in ceremonies on the seventh of July of the lunar calendar to drive away something wicked in the interior of the body.
Sennou was named after Sennouji Temple in Kyoto. I consider the plant was brought by Eisai who introduced Zen, Chinese Buddhism, to Japan. The importation of tea plant was similar. I guess ginkgo was also imported together with them at that time. All of them have commonly fan shape, which means the infinite and spreading out universe like an unfolded fan.
Chrysanthemum, which was imported to Japan by Heian Period, has the same meaning. Ancient chrysanthemum was red and yellow. Medicinal value, eternal youth, of chrysanthemum must have been heightened by its color.
A plum tree was introduced from China. It came over to Japan at least until when "Man'yoshu (The oldest anthology in Japan)" was concluded and spread in the country as legal codes were introduced, I think.
A plum is a vegetable having the meaning of love or happiness. Red-and-white plums are drawn on "the Kitano Tenjin Engi Emaki (A kind of a picture scroll)." Today we have red-and-white curtain or "Mizuhiki (red-and-white paper strings)," both of which matches colors. When we consider the sense, I think a plum can be a key word.
Shape of a bottle gourd is important
Now we are going to think about an instance of shape, digressing from the talk of color. The shape of a bottle gourd in the Roman Empire, Jomon Times, Nara and Heian Period was like pear or globular or flask. The constricted shape of bottle gourd seen today came over to Japan in the medieval ages. At that time people cut a globular gourd in half, put a handle to make a ladle, and used it as a tool for religious rites such as divine service like praying for rain. A bottle gourd in any shape is supposed something to bring about fortune and wealth at any time. That's because numerous seeds in a fruit meant a treasure in the shape of children and it sounded jingle like coins when people shook a dry fruit.
This way when you consider people's recognition against environment and stuff, not only color but also shape becomes a very important element. A bottle gourd is only one instance among many, which tells us that it is necessary to consider colors and shapes collectively from now on.
Jomon People's view of nature
We can compound various colors and color something today. But going back to the past, we know the significance of color is gradually getting strong and a certain color had a big influence. We can know from many instances that symbolic color or sense has continued with some changes to today. You may easily imagine that blue, red, yellow, white and black in "Theory of Five Elements" weren't suddenly born in ancient China, but they were also symbolic in Japan's Jomon Times. It seems that such allelomorphic combinations as red and black, or red and white were born from daily observation of natural phenomena, telling us Jomon People's view of nature straightforwardly. This kind of nature view is formed, taking a long time. Yezo-niwatoko (Sambucus racemosa var. Miguelii), which I consider raw material for Jomon liquors, couldn't be born without human commitment for several generations.
Keiichi Omura recently wrote a treatise comparing sense system of Inuit with modern science, telling us the character of Jomon Culture which we can't solve with modern science. Qualitative, intuitive, totalitarian, contextual, subjective, experiential, and idealistic principle of explanation has been all supposed to be unscientific. But Jomon People's view of nature is in such a situation and it may be something we shouldn't see analytically with modern science. We are totally invaded by modern science and trying to explain everything logically and mechanically, which shows we may have possibly followed the retrogressive historical path from the wild science in Jomon Times. It is just to perceive it that we consider the cultural history of colors, too.
（Translated by Junzo Miyamoto)