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Encyclopedia > Kofun
Daisenryo Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku, Sakai, 5th century.
Daisenryo Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku, Sakai, 5th century.

Kofun (古墳?) are megalithic monuments in Japan, dating back to proto-history. They gave their name to the Kofun era (c AD 250–538), a part of the Yamato period. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (800x800, 514 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Emperor Nintoku ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (800x800, 514 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Emperor Nintoku ... Daisen-Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku, Osaka Emperor Nintoku (仁徳天皇 Nintoku Tennō) was the 16th imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. ... Sakai (堺市; -shi) is a city located in Osaka Prefecture, Japan. ... Europe in 450 The 5th century is the period from 401 - 500 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... Kofun period (Japanese: 古墳時代, Kofun-jidai) is an era in the history of Japan from around AD 250 to 538. ... March 12 - Witiges, king of the Ostrogoths ends his siege of Rome and retreats to Ravenna, leaving the city in the hands of the victorious Byzantine general, Belisarius. ... The following text needs to be harmonized with text in the article History of Japan#Yamato period. ...

Contents

Topography

Kofun of Noge-Ōtsuka (野毛大塚古墳), Setagaya, Tokyo, 5th century.
Kofun of Noge-Ōtsuka (野毛大塚古墳), Setagaya, Tokyo, 5th century.

The kofun tumuli have taken various shapes through history. The most common one is a keyhole shape having one square end and one circular end; there are also circular kofun (empun), rectangular ones (zempō-kōhō), and square ones (hōfun). The mixed, keyhole shape (zempō kōen) is typically Japanese. The funeral chamber, often painted, was located in the round part. The "aft" of the kofun was usually oriented toward south or west. Haniwa were arrayed above and in the surroundings to delimit and protect the sacred era. Some have surrounding moats. Many kofun were natural hills, which might have been sculpted to their final shape. Kofun range in size from several meters to over 400 m in length. The biggest kofun are believed to be the tombs of emperors like Emperor Ōjin and Emperor Nintoku. Kofun are also classified according to whether the entrance to the stone burial chamber is vertical (tate-ana) or horizontal (yoko-ana). Image File history File links Noge-Ōtsuka Kofun tumulus (野毛大塚古墳) in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. ... Image File history File links Noge-Ōtsuka Kofun tumulus (野毛大塚古墳) in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. ... Location of Setagaya-ku in Tokyo. ... Burial of Oleg of Novgorod in a tumulus in 912. ... The Haniwa (埴輪) are funerary figures (literally, clay rings), found in thousands of kofun era tombs (3rd-6th century CE) scattered throughout Japan. ... The metre, or meter (U.S.), is a measure of length. ... Emperor ÅŒjin (応神天皇 ÅŒjin Tennō) was the 15th imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. ... Daisen-Kofun, the tomb of Emperor Nintoku, Osaka Emperor Nintoku (仁徳天皇 Nintoku Tennō) was the 16th imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. ...

A late kofun, earthen covering gone.
A late kofun, earthen covering gone.

By the late Kofun period, the distinctive burial chambers, originally used by the ruling elite, also were built for commoners. ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1000x1153, 441 KB) Ishibutai Kofun. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (1000x1153, 441 KB) Ishibutai Kofun. ...


Development

Plan of a keyhole (zenpō kōen) kofun
Plan of a keyhole (zenpō kōen) kofun

The oldest Japanese kofun is said to be Hokenoyama Kofun located in Sakurai, Nara, which dates to later 3rd century. In Makimuku district of Sakurai, earlier keyhole kofun (Hashihaka Kofun, Shibuya Mukaiyama Kofun) were built around early 4th century. The trend of keyhole kofun first spread from Yamato to Kawachi (where gigantic kofun as Daisen Kofun of Emperor Nintoku are built), and then throughout the country (except for the Tōhoku region) in 5th century. Later that century, keyhole kofun were also built in Gaya confederacy of Korea. Plan of a Zempō Kōen Kofun File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Plan of a Zempō Kōen Kofun File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Sakurai (桜井市; -shi) is a city located in Nara, Japan. ... Tohoku region, Japan The Tōhoku region (東北地方; Tōhoku-chihō) is a geographical area of Japan. ... Gaya was a confederacy of chiefdoms in the Nakdong River valley of southern Korea, growing out of the Byeonhan confederacy and later annexed by Silla, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. ...


The spreading of keyhole kofun is generally assumed to be an evidence of Yamato court's expansion in this age. However, some argues that it simply shows the spreading of culture based on progresses in distribution, and has little to do with political breakthrough. Whether keyhole kofun in Gaya was for local chieftains influenced by Japanese culture or for Japanese aristocrat is also argued. Some Korean archeologists don't want to recognize the culture inflows from Japan to Korea in ancient times, but it seems clear that the burial mounds with square fronts and round backs in the Korean Peninsula were influenced by Japanese mounds.


Keyhole kofun disappeared later in 6th century, probably because of the drastic reformation taken place in Yamato court, where Nihon Shoki records the introduction of Buddhism at this age. Nihonshoki (日本書紀) is the second oldest history book about the ancient history of Japan. ...


External links

  • Japanese Archaeology: Kofun Culture

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Kofun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (257 words)
The "aft" of the kofun was usually oriented toward south or west.
Kofun range in size from several meters to over 400 m in length.
Kofun are also classified according to whether the entrance to the stone burial chamber is vertical (tate-ana) or horizontal (yoko-ana).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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